Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, April 7, 2013 at 6:00 PM
The Louisville Cardinals and Michigan Wolverines survived nailbiters Saturday in the Final Four of the NCAA tournament. Louisville’s starting lineup had their worst game in weeks. But, the bench rallied the Cards from behind against Wichita State. Michigan’s starting lineup was great for about 30 minutes…before almost choking the game away against Syracuse.
Both got the job done when it mattered in the final moments. Both have clearly established their championship bona-fides in this event. Louisville is still the best team on paper. Michigan just knocked off dangerous VCU, Kansas, Florida, and Syracuse in succession. Were they to win Monday, this might be one of the most impressive Dance runs EVER!
Which team is best suited to seal the deal in Atlanta Monday Night? Let’s run the game through our gauntlet of indicators…
Michigan: 31-7 (12-6 in the Big 10)
Louisville: 34-5 (14-4 in the Big East)
Very important to remember that Michigan only has two more losses this year than Louisville. One team was the #1 seed in the whole event…while the other dropped down to a #4 seed because it was thought they had peaked too early. Well, Michigan is clearly playing like a #1 seed caliber team right now…just as they were at the best of times during the regular season. Slight edge in those numbers to Louisville, which is consistent with the Vegas price.
Michigan: #2 with Sagarin, #5 with Pomeroy
Louisville: #1 with Sagarin, #1 with Pomeroy
Michigan has surged all the way up to #2 with Sagarin…which is what happens in a tight field when one team keeps winning! Pomeroy still has them down at #5, below Gonzaga! Both would agree that this is a great matchup fitting for a tournament finale.
COMPUTER STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANKINGS
Michigan: #7 with Sagarin, #8 with Pomeroy
Louisville: #10 with Sagarin, #12 with Pomeroy
Great schedules for both teams. Michigan’s had the tougher pathway in the tournament, which may prove important because Louisville hasn’t played a superpower beyond Duke in this event…and Duke has a recent history of getting blown off the floor by quality in the Dance. As impressive as Wichita State has been in the tourney, beating Wichita State, Duke, Oregon, and Colorado State isn’t the same as a grand slam of Syracuse, Florida, Kansas, and VCU. We’re going to consider a slight edge to Michigan for “big game readiness” vs. quality.
WON-LOST RECORDS VS. SAGARIN’S TOP 50
Both teams have played 19 games vs. the top 50, which is brutal. Both teams have excelled vs. those challenges. Louisville’s advantage here is consistent with what we saw in the earlier records. Louisville is the superior side over the full campaign. Are they playing superior ball right now?
POMEROY’S ADJUSTED OFFENSE RANKINGS
Michigan found a lot of ways to score vs. that tricky Syracuse zone. But, they had real trouble making free throws! That’s the only time they were unguarded. Fatigue may have been an issue in the final minutes, which is very bad news if you’re hoping to beat Louisville two days later. Both of these teams have good offenses. Michigan deserves the nod on paper. Just remember that Louisville’s offense is in bounce-back mode after their starters played poorly, while Michigan’s offense might be in letdown mode after two strong (in context) performances vs. Syracuse and Florida.
POMEROY’S ADJUSTED DEFENSE RANKINGS
Big edge to the Cardinals here. They can be in trouble if the refs call a game very closely, which happened Saturday vs. Wichita State. Michigan better hope it’s the same kind of refs Monday Night! It’s very difficult to score on Louisville if they’re allowed to grab you all over the floor. Edge here to the favorite.
POMEROY’S ADJUSTED TEMPO RANKINGS
Michigan is the slower of the two by a good bit, though their players don’t mind playing at tempo. The problem is they become prone to foul trouble in an up-and-down pace. If the Wolverines aren’t cognizant of that, this game could get away from them. We expect pace to play a very big role in determining this particular winner.
There’s a lot of volatility here. Michigan could play flat, tired, or overenthusiastic in a way that could cause serious problems. They need to find the right balance of energy and smarts to keep from handing free points to their opponent. If they CAN find that balance…then we’re looking at underdog that’s better than Wichita State, and therefore capable of taking down another big name opponent.
Kansas was a #1 seed
Florida graded out as a #1 seed according to the computers
Syracuse was playing like a #1 seed when Michigan beat them
The Wolverines are capable if cutting down the nets. They might be down double digits at the half if the don’t bring their A-game.
JIM HURLEY is working very closely with his on-site sources to get a read on the mindsets of both teams. If Louisville lost some confidence Saturday, the loss of swagger could turn them back into an ordinary team. If Michigan spent too much time celebrating Saturday Night, they’re going to get blitzed by the Louisville press. INFORMATION matters more than anything in this particular game!
You can purchase the final word from JIM HURLEY right here at this website with your credit card during the day Monday. Look for bonus MLB monsters you can use in parlays as well. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453. The end of college basketball means it’s time for you to start thinking very seriously about NBA and MLB seasonal packages.
It’s the night we’ve been waiting for…the night a champion is crowned. When championships are on the line, YOU NEED WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!