Now that Louisville's wrapped an appearance in the 2013 NCAA men's basketball championship game, we're a little under 40 minutes until Michigan makes their long-awaited return to the Final Four taking on the four seed of the East, the Syracuse Orange. To the Wolverines' credit, they enter this one confident – not heavy – but confident favorites against an Orange team who even head coach Jim Boeheim's called a "surprise" Final Four side.
Michigan started this matchup out as as much as 2.5-point favorites, while recent trends have their projected edge down to 1.5. Translation: unless you're a hardcore gambler, this one could go either way. But it certainly seems like just about all the experts are picking Michigan, and it's not exactly hard to see why. Trey Burke hasn't exactly been himself (other than that insane closing stretch in which he almost singlehandedly willed the Wolverines into a win against Kansas), and yet here they are. Even with Burke and Hardaway Jr. a combined 8-for-29 from the field (SPOILER: if they do this in either of the next two games, they have about a 2% chance of winning), the Wolverines absolutely rolled the advanced metric darling Florida Gators.
But now it's time for the new generation of Michigan Wolverines to write their destiny. Back at the end of January, the Wolverines reached the #1 ranking in the sport for the first time since the Fab Five era. While they teetered down the stretch, easily the most talented core since that previous national runner-up side have peeked at just the right time. And at this point, it's pretty much all house money.
The star of that last great Michigan team, Chris Webber, took to social media Saturday afternoon to cheer on the current core in the lead up to tonight's huge FInal Four clash:
It's Your Time Now! twitter.com/realchriswebbe…— Chris Webber (@realchriswebber) April 6, 2013
We can't agree more.
Michigan has a storied, rich tradition of finishing national runner-ups, getting blown out by Duke in the 1992 title game, 71-51, and then the next year against North Carolina, 77-71. The video above was the closing of the window on the near dynasty of second-place finishes, but we think this group has what it takes to get back to the almost-promised land. There's honestly no team in the country better equipped to finish #2. And as an Ohio State fan well versed in being just good enough to lose title games, I really see it in this group.
We're all rooting for you Michigan. You can finish #2. Or heck, if you really want to prove us all wrong, you can lay claim to the mythical national #3 or #4 finish.