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March Madness

College Basketball



This is exactly what the committee wanted by placing these teams in this position for a rematch of the 2013 National Championship game. Louisville was a favorite in that one and will be a favorite in this one. The Wolverines caught fire in the first round to take down Oklahoma State and Louisville disposed of Jacksonville State, although it wasn't pretty.

Obviously, the main thing when looking at this game is Michigan's three-point shooting. The Wolverines went a ridiculous 11-of-13 from three-point range to close out their OK State win. If they're shooting like that, not many teams will be able to beat them. Of course, those easy looks won't be there against a lengthy Louisville team that presses a ton. The Cardinals are one of the best in the nation at allowing just 30.9% from deep and that goes along with them being one of the most efficient defenses in the country. It's going to be a true battle of offense vs. defense.

Getting easy looks for the Michigan bigs won't be easy against a similarly built Louisville team. Moritz Wagner and D.J. Wilson can stretch the floor, but the Cardinals have four guys to defend them in Ray Spalding, Jaylen Johnson, Mangok Mathiang and Anas Mahmoud. Stopping Zak Irvin will be possible as well with Deng Adel and VJ King seeing a lot of time at the three-spot. And then there's Quentin Snider and Donovan Mitchell in the backcourt going against Derrick Walton, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Duncan Robinson.

Michigan has been great offensively in the past month en route to the Big Ten tournament title, but these guys haven't seen a defense like Louisville's in some time. While hitting shots will be important, it'll also be key for Walton and company not to turn the ball over, something they haven't done all season. If those two things go for the Wolverines, this will be a close game.

The other end is where the problem could be, though. Michigan allowed 16 offensive boards to OK State on Friday and the Cardinals are one of the best at attacking the offensive glass. With the aforementioned frontcourt led by Johnson and Mathiang on the offensive glass, the Wolverines will need to box out. But what makes this Louisville team different than ones the last couple years is that it's more consistent offensively.

Mitchell should have his way against the two-guards he faces, although Snider will have a tough matchup with Walton. Stopping Adel will be a question as well as he'll likely have a few inches on anyone that guards him. That said, it wouldn't be surprising if Louisville used Johnson and Mathiang a little more down low in order to make Wilson and Wagner play more defense. Wagner has a problem with getting into foul trouble and that could easily be something that happens in this game (he played just 14 minutes against OK State).

The Wolverines pulled away in that first game due to a barrage of three-pointers in the second half. If that doesn't happen in this one, they'll need a much better defensive performance to grab an upset. Louisville didn't look at that convincing in the opener, but will undoubtedly come to play in this matchup.

Our Pick - Michigan +2.5

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