March Madness 2013: Breaking Down Key National Championship Points

Tim KeeneyContributor IApril 7, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 06:  Trey Burke #3 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates the Wolverines 61-56 victory against the Syracuse Orange during the 2013 NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at the Georgia Dome on April 6, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

You might look at the difference in seed or the fact that the Cardinals are favored, but Louisville and Michigan match up incredibly well against each other.

Both squads have extremely talented guards capable of taking over the game. Both have strong big men controlling the paint in the middle. Both have athletes. Both are more effective in a fast-paced, transition-focused game. 

Both are 40 minutes away from the national championship.

Basically, this (via Yahoo! Sports' Andy Glockner):

Thank you, college basketball gods. Let's take a look a just a few of the compelling matchups.


Breaking the Press

Thinking about this matchup makes me want to just fall on the ground, start a temper-tantrum and continually scream about how I want the game to start RIGHT NOW. 

Louisville wins games with its pressure-filled, ball-hawking, relentless defense. When the Cardinals are forcing turnovers and getting into transition, they are impossible to beat. And it works. Opponents turn the ball over on 26 percent of their possessions against the Cardinals, which is second most in America. 

As we saw on Saturday, though, when a team like Wichita State handles the press, the Cardinals' struggle on both sides of the court.

Well, Michigan probably isn't the matchup they were hoping for, then. 

The Wolverines not only have Trey Burke, the best point guard in the country, but they have the lowest turnover percentage in America and already handled VCU, the only team that forces more turnovers than Louisville. 

No. 1 vs. No. 2. Yes, please. 


Stopping Mitch McGary

Mitch McGary is the Hulk. I'm convinced. 

In five tournament wins, the physical true freshman is averaging 16 points on 68.1 percent shooting, 11.6 rebounds and 2.6 steals.

And he might be even more dominant than his numbers suggest. 

At 6'10" and 250 pounds with an endless motor, a nose for the ball and strong hands, he's ferocious on the glass and creates a lot of his offense out of nothing. Moreover, he proved on Saturday that he has the skills to succeed against length and athleticism. 

If anyone is up to stopping the man who has been unstoppable, it's Gorgui Dieng. 

The 6'11" junior got into foul trouble against Wichita State on Saturday, but he's averaging 9.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocks on the season and has been one of the best low-post defenders in America for the past two years.  

He's going to have to put a body on McGary at all times. 


Louisville's Frontcourt

Russ Smith and Peyton Siva have the talent and playmaking ability to carry the Cardinals offensively, but they can also be unpredictable, as evidenced on Saturday.  

In order to avoid being one-dimensional, Louisville needs offensive production from its talented, deep frontcourt. 

Against Wichita State, there were mixed results on that, ahem, front. Dieng and Wayne Blackshear each scored zero points, but the uber-athletic duo of Chane Behanan and Montrezl Harrell combined for 18 points. 

In particular, Harrell, who has a type of game similar to McGary's, will be key in the national championship. He had eight points and four rebounds in 11 minutes against the Shockers and appears on the cusp of a major breakout. 

Against Michigan, who tends to play four perimeter players next to McGary, Harrell and the rest of the Cardinals big men will have a good opportunity to produce on the inside. 


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