Louisville vs. Michigan: Evaluating Early Lines for National Title Game
After two closely-contested Final Four clashes, the field of play has been narrowed down to two teams: Louisville and Michigan.
Both schools have waited decades to celebrate a national title, and each team lays claim to one of the nation's top players. Needless to say, Monday night's showdown should be a heated battle between two of college basketball's most storied programs.
Heading into tomorrow night's matchup, both teams appear to have a legitimate shot at taking home the title. Here's an early look at the lines for the national title tilt.
According to Vegas Insider, the Louisville Cardinals are -3.5 favorites to top Michigan, but these teams are more evenly matched than what meets the eye.
In general, the NCAA tournament is often won by the team that features college basketball's most dominant player. In this matchup, there are two obvious candidates.
In the blue-and-gold corner is recent John Wooden Award winner Trey Burke, who will undoubtedly bounce back from his 1-of-8 shooting performance in the Final Four against Syracuse.
At the other end of the floor is Russ Smith, who has been an offensive dynamo for the Cardinals, registering at least 20 points in each tournament game.
As far as individual recognition goes, one of the most prestigious awards in all of college sports is the NCAA tournament's Most Outstanding Player. With only two squads left, we now have a reasonably accurate idea of who is still in contention.
Per Bovada, the top two candidates are both slam dunks, as Trey Burke and Russ Smith are both obvious choices for M.O.P. at the Big Dance.
At this stage, unless one of the two stars falters, the award will go to either Burke or Smith, depending on which team wins.
Ultimately, Burke's performance in the Final Four may hurt him, but if he can put up 20-25 points in the biggest game of the season, while incorporating Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr., his fellow future first-rounder teammates, he'll leave the Georgia Dome with all the bragging rights a college basketball player could hope for.
The nation's best player will do what's asked of him: Burke's performance will put the Wolverines over the top, and Michigan will permanently make the Fab Five era a thing of the past.
Michigan 71, Louisville 67
Most Outstanding Player: Trey Burke
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