How did Mitch McGary and Jordan Morgan grade out for the Michigan Wolverines?
The Michigan Wolverines relied heavily on a group of unsung heroes to take down the Syracuse Orange in their first Final Four appearance since 1993. Four reserves saw action and scored 21 points to help Michigan emerge with a 61-56 victory.
The win puts the Maize and Blue into the national title game, where it will face the Louisville Cardinals.
Less than 40 percent of the Wolverines' field goal attempts went down, but 13 offensive rebounds and 17 assists helped them overcome a mediocre shooting performance.
Before looking ahead to Monday night's clash with Louisville, it is time to pass out report card grades from Michigan's victory in the national semifinals.
Mitch McGary excelled in every facet of his game on Saturday night.
Overall Player Grade: A
The evolution of power forward Mitch McGary continued on Saturday night, which is one of the main reasons the Michigan Wolverines are advancing to the national championship game.
McGary recorded his third double-double of the NCAA tournament with 10 points and 12 rebounds. More impressive than those numbers, though, were the six assists McGary managed to dish out. Rounding out the 6'10", 250-pounder's stat line for the night was a pair of blocks.
Not everything McGary did against the Syracuse Orange showed up in the box score. Several Michigan possessions were extended thanks to its starting big man tipping missed shots out to the perimeter.
Playing well in the high post was a must for the Wolverines to win. McGary did an excellent job of executing the game plan. The highly touted freshman knocked down four of eight shots overall and hit a couple of mid-range jumpers. Those baskets helped free up space for the rest of Michigan's offense to work with.
Although McGary did commit three turnovers, the things he did well significantly outweighed the few mistakes he made. Michigan could not have asked for more from McGary.
Glenn Robinson III played an efficient game to help the Wolverines escape the Orange.
Overall Player Grade: A-
Despite some early struggles, freshman small forward Glenn Robinson III turned in one of the most efficient performances for the Michigan Wolverines.
The Syracuse Orange's 2-3 zone clearly flustered Robinson in the opening minutes. Robinson committed three turnovers and did not handle the ball well in the high post. Trying to dribble in the middle of the zone usually results in turnovers, and Robinson found that out the hard way.
Once the St. John, Ind. native got going, nothing could slow him down. Robinson finished the game with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
Scoring is not the only contribution Robinson made, though. The 6'6", 210-pounder made his presence known on the glass. Robinson grabbed six rebounds, five of which were offensive boards.
Michigan will need Robinson to continue to play aggressively in order to take down the Louisville Cardinals on Monday night.
Nik Stauskas struggled to find his shooting stroke on Saturday.
Overall Player Grade: D
When freshman shooting guard Nik Stauskas is not hitting open three-pointers, his value to the Michigan Wolverines diminishes. Nothing went Stauskas' way against the Syracuse Orange, which limited his playing time to just 18 minutes.
All five of Stauskas' shots were off the mark. The youngster went 0-of-4 from beyond the arc, and just about every one of his attempts were uncontested.
Since Stauskas is a highly regarded offensive player and a below-average defender, it made the most sense for Caris LeVert to play more minutes.
The only things keeping Stauskas from receiving a failing grade are the defensive rebound and steal he managed to come up with. Everything else about the Canadian's night was not worth remembering, however.
Expect Stauskas to bounce back with a strong outing in the national title game.
Tim Hardaway Jr. did not shoot the ball well, but contributed in other areas for the Wolverines.
Overall Player Grade: B+
Jacking up shots is never a problem for junior shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. Knocking down a high percentage of those attempts is a different story, though, and Hardaway struggled from the field against the Syracuse Orange.
Hardaway took some bad shots early in the game but eventually settled in for a crucial stretch. The first team All-Big Ten guard only converted four of 16 shots and was 3-of-10 from distance. Hardaway did manage to finish the contest with a team-high 13 points, though.
Saturday night's win marked the third straight game in which Hardaway has shot less than 40 percent overall. Those numbers certainly will not help his NBA draft stock in the coming months.
In addition to leading the Wolverines in scoring, Hardaway grabbed six rebounds and five assists.
This game may not have been pretty for Hardaway, but there is something to be said for how well he played despite his shooting struggles. As long as Hardaway is distributing or grabbing rebounds when making shots is out of the question, Michigan can win it all in Atlanta.
Trey Burke did not have his best game, but Michigan still came away with an important victory.
Overall Player Grade: B
There is no denying sophomore point guard Trey Burke played one of his worst games of the season in the national semifinal. Thankfully, the Michigan Wolverines were able to survive Burke's off night.
The newly crowned Wooden Award winner knocked down just one of eight field-goal attempts and went 3-of-4 from three-point range. Burke doled out five assists and grabbed six rebounds, which helped make up for his poor shooting.
Defense is the area where Burke stood out most of all, though. Michael Carter-Williams fouled out in the closing minutes with a mere two points, two assists and five turnovers. Burke frustrated his counterpart to say the least.
The future NBA lottery pick constantly disrupted passes, swiped the ball away from anybody in his vicinity and kept Carter-Williams out of the lane. Those three things were more important to Michigan than Burke filling the basket up.
It is unlikely the Wolverines will be able to topple the top-seeded Louisville Cardinals if Burke struggles offensively again. Look for Burke to be at his best when Michigan takes the floor in the NCAA tournament finale.
Michigan's bench picked the best night to come up big.
Overall Group Grade: A+
Production from the bench has been few and far between for the Michigan Wolverines over the course of the season, but the reserves saved their best performances for Saturday night.
After accounting for 26 points in Michigan's first four NCAA tournament games, the bench piled up 21 points in the win over the Syracuse Orange.
Freshman shooting guard Caris LeVert saw 21 minutes of action, mostly because Nik Stauskas struggled to make shots. The moment never seemed to big for LeVert, who looked more confident than ever before.
LeVert played outstanding defense, scored eight points, grabbed four rebounds and handed out a pair of assists.
Spike Albrecht and Jon Horford played four minutes apiece and made the most of every second. The two combined to score 10 points and snag two boards.
Perhaps the most important play of all, though, came from redshirt junior power forward Jordan Morgan. The University of Detroit Jesuit alum took a charge with 19.2 seconds remaining, which allowed Horford to put the game away at the free-throw line.
If Michigan gets this kind of production out of its bench in the final game of the 2012-13 campaign, the Wolverines should be cutting down the nets at the Georgia Dome.
John Beilein has Michigan back in the national championship game.
Overall Team Grade: B+
Down and dirty, low-scoring games have been a recipe for the Michigan Wolverines' demise this season, but the emergence of Mitch McGary has allowed them to win ugly.
Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. were a combined 5-of-24 from the field. Nik Stauskas did not hit a single shot. But the Wolverines got production from places hardly anyone would have expected.
The 21 points by the bench were instrumental in helping Michigan advance to the national title game. Spike Albrecht and Caris LeVert were the two standout reserves for the Wolverines. Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford each made important plays late in the game as well.
Another aggressive outing from Glenn Robinson III helped the Wolverines dominate the offensive glass. Robinson snagged five offensive boards, and Michigan out-rebounded the Syracuse Orange 36-32.
Breaking the 2-3 zone proved to be less daunting for the Wolverines than expected. There were some bad turnovers early on, but, for the most part, Michigan played well in the high post and knocked down enough deep threes to come away with a fifth straight victory.
Credit head coach John Beilein for much of what happened on Saturday night. The Wolverines knew the weak spots of the Syracuse zone, only committed 10 turnovers and practiced shooting long treys in the week leading up to the game.
This style of play is not ideal for Michigan, but it still took care of the rock well enough to move on to the final stage of the Big Dance.