New York, NY (PRWEB) April 08, 2013
The NCAA Final Four Game is tonight.
And then there were two. Michigan beat Syracuse, 61-56, and Louisville beat Wichita, 72-68 over the weekend, to set up a match up between storied coach Rick Pitino's Cardinals and John Belein's Wolverines. Pitino and Belein have met head-to-head in NCAA matchups four times before, and Pitino has the edge 3 to 1. This will also be the first time that the Cardinals meet the Wolverines in the Finals.
The most that has been emphasized about this matchup is the difference between the two teams. Louisville is the number 1 defensive team in the country, while Michigan is the number 1 offensive team. The Cards are the best at forcing turnovers, while the Wolverines have the least turnover ration.
When discussion of defense comes along, people think about a full-court press. In Louisville's case, they do not employ the press as much as people think they do. Villanova, as a defensive proponent, presses more than Louisville. The defense, however, is a dynamic concept as far as they implement it. The team presses then buckles down to a matchup zone defense. They also do a lot of midcourt traps with Wayne Blackshear and Chane Behanan.
Much has been said about Louisville's defense. It is true that they have won because of their defenses, but it is also true that Pitino has been a proponent of offense oriented basketball, as well as the three-pointer as an important part of the team's arsenal. Pitino will be gunning for his second NCAA crown. He is the first coach to steer three teams to the Final Four, he led Kentucky to the NCAA Championship and would want to have another, this time with Louisville.
Pitino also has Peyton Siva and Russ Smitt, two of the fastest guards playing in the NCAA, to anchor their offense. With these two slashing in, and distributing the ball, the Cardinals have been shooting 51% from within the two-point area. From the three point line they are shooting less than even odds with a 32.9% clip.
The best offensive team did not get to be one by turning over the ball. Villanova plays a lot like Louisville, and met with Michigan in the round of 32. Michigan attacked Villanova's press and kept on attacking it. With two ballhandlers, they were able to neutralize the press and win to advance to the round of 16. Belein should also thank coach Gregg Marshall of Wichita State for showing how Louisville can be defeated. Wichita almost won in their Final Four with the Cards. They had 11 turnovers and just lost by 2 points.
Besides Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. on the ball, they can break the press. With freshman Mitch McCrary on the low post, they have a legitimate presence on offense. He brings an average of 16 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. To break the Cardinals offense, they have to get past the midpoint line and attack the defense. On the other hand, the questiion which is left to be answered is how can the Wolverines stop the penetrations, if they don't have an intimidating shot-blocker to do it. The Wolverines offense is anchored on crisp cuts, clean passes and great outside shooting. On top of that, they have proven that they can break the press and avoid the traps.
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