Michigan, Louisville Survive Cliffhanger Games
By Greg Botelho and Lateef Mungin, CNN
ATLANTA (CNN) — Michigan and Louisville will meet Monday in the NCAA men’s basketball championship game in Atlanta after both survived close games Saturday.
Michigan was up by 11 points at halftime leading the Syracuse Orange 36-25.
But the Orange went on a furious comeback in the second half, getting the game to within three points with a little more than 7 minutes left.
The Wolverines handled Syracuse’s tough zone defense down the stretch, winning 61-56. Michigan’s backcourt of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke led the way against Syracuse’s pesky defenders.
Two crucial foul calls at the end of the game helped the Wolverines secure the win.
They advance to play Louisville, who beat Wichita State earlier Saturday.
The Shockers and Cardinals battled through a tight, low-scoring first half that ended with Wichita State going into the intermission with a slim 26-25 advantage.
Louisville’s 72-68 win means that its head coach, Rick Pitino, still is in contention to win his second national championship — the other coming in 1996, when he coached the Cardinals’ archrival, the University of Kentucky.
The game also ended Wichita State’s remarkable tournament run. The No. 9 seed in the West region beat top-seed Gonzaga and then Ohio State to earn a spot in the Final Four.
Despite being a heavy underdog, the Shockers led for much of the game — leading 47-35 with 13 minutes to go in the contest. But the Cardinals were able to chip away, before finally going ahead with about five minutes remaining.
Louisville, which won the national title in 1980 and 1986, will face Michigan Monday night.