Keys to Michigan winning the title
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to Bracket Briefing, our attempt to provide you with the essential information on the Big Dance — highlighting the Florida Gulf Coasts and Wichita States of the college basketball world.
At the water cooler: Tonight starting at 9:23 p.m. ET on CBS, a national champion will be decided. Each team has its own intriguing back story. Louisville has a chance to claim national supremacy for the first time since 1986, more importantly a chance to give coach Rick Pitino his second title with a different school after piloting Kentucky to the title 17 years ago. Michigan can become national champions for the first time since 1989 and this Wolverines squad has a chance to trump the Fab Five by winning a national title, a feat that has taken a major timeout since Steve Fisher was on the sidelines.
Of course, with Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and who’s that other guy Ray Jackson having their early 1990s banners vacated, Michigan winning tonight holds significant meaning because a banner will be hanging in the rafters once again. Still, there’s a value to accomplishing something that eluded one of the most transcendent teams in college basketball history. If Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Co. cut down the nets, they’ll put an end to a long wait while simultaneously erasing bad memories.
Keys to Michigan winning: It’s fair to call Michigan underdogs if we’re going by the defense wins championships adage. Here’s a look at ways their superior offense and not-so-bad defense can lead to a title.
1. Handle Louisville’s press and halfcourt pressure with poise. Burke and Hardaway Jr. should be OK. What about the role players/reserves? This is the easiest way to control the tempo against a smother ‘D.’
2. Win the rebounding battle. Wichita State played phenomenal defense to nearly shock Louisville. WSU also controlled the boards. If Michigan can get second-chance points, it’s a bonus. The most important part is not allowing the Cardinals to get out in transition where they’re dangerous.
3. Don’t shoot too many outside shots. Even though this team has high accuracy from … [For more on Bracket Briefing: 5 'Fab' keys to Michigan winning the title, click here.]