It will be a matchup of strength vs. strength when No. 4 Michigan and No. 4 Syracuse tip off in the second national semifinal on Saturday night. The multi-faceted Wolverines' offense led by Trey Burke, the AP player of the year, will need to unlock the stingy 2-3 zone defense of the Orange.
The offenses of Indiana and Marquette broke against the 2-3 like waves on the shore. Marquette managed just 39 points in the Elite Eight, a record low for an NCAA tournament regional final in the shot clock era. Indiana was held to a season low 50 in the Sweet 16.
"We've just got to try to find different ways to attack the zone," Burke said ahead of the Final Four, via The Associated Press. "They play a really good 2-3. It's tough. We've got to make sure we knock down uncontested 3s."
If three-point shooting is the key, then Michigan may have the right player hot at the right time. Freshman guard Nik Stauskas scored 22 points against Florida in the regional final, sinking all six attempts from three-point range.
Can Michigan handle Syracuse's zone just like it did VCU's vaunted "Havoc" defense? Will Orange scorers C.J. Fair and James Southerland be able to keep pace even if it does?
Stay tuned for live updates and tweet @HuffPostSports to join in the conversation:
|@ rushthecourt : Michigan has the nation's best offense; Louisville the nation's best defense. It'll be a deserving Monday night championship bout.|
|@ ESPNDanaOneil : Trevor Cooney?|
|@ ESPNAndyKatz : Wow. What a night. Two thrilling games. Michigan vs. Louisville for title. Big Ten gets a shot to win a title. Should be a good one.|
|@ SIPeteThamel : John Beilein is 1-9 against Jim Boeheim. Pretty good time to get that one. Louisville vs. Michigan in the final. Great game Monday.|
|@ MedcalfByESPN : People are throwing things at the Georgia Dome. ... NCAA: Never give college basketball fans 50,000 seat cushions, OK? They will be thrown.|
|@ AdamZagoria : Michigan is back in the NCAA Championship game after a 20-year drought...and Syracuse is off to the ACC|
|@ GoodmanCBS : Michigan vs. Louisville for the national title game. Perfect.|
Cooney forced up a wild shot and missed. Michigan turned it into an EASY fast break and Morgan threw down a two-handed dunk. MICHIGAN WINS 61-56.
|@ JonRothstein : Southerland time.|
Morgan went 1/2 from the free throw line. 17.9 seconds left. Michigan leads by THREE. Syracuse calls timeout.
Triche drives to his right and runs right into Jordan Morgan and is called for the charge. Triche has fouled out with 11 points. 19.2 seconds left.
Burke made the 2nd one. 58-56 Michigan.
Burke missed the first free throw.
McGary missed both free throws and Southerland hit a 3 fromt he right wing! 57-56 Michigan with 28.1 seconds left. Trey Burke was fouled.
McGary missed the 2nd free throw but a lane violation is called on Keita...
Triche drives to his right, knocks down a shot off the glass and drew a foul. He missed the free throw though. McGary got the rebound and was fouled right away. 48.7 seconds left. 57-53 Michigan.
Burke made both. 57-51 Michigan.
Southerland fouls Burke with 57.9 seconds left.
Triche fouled Albrecht and the guard missed the free throw. Triche then drove into the paint and drew a foul. He made both free throws to make it 55-51 Michigan with 1 minute left.
Michael Carter-Williams collided with Hardaway Jr. and was called for a foul. He has fouled out. Hardaway sold it well but Carter-Williams clearly ran into him. He's getting emotional on the bench. He finished with 2 points. 1:09 left.
Hardaway Jr. sunk both free throws. 55-49 Michigan with 1:19 left.
Triche commits a foul with 14 seconds left on the shot clock. Hardaway Jr. will go to the line for a one-and one.
Michael Carter-Williams is called for a blocking foul defending Tim Hardaway Jr. Looked like Hardaway pushed off. That's Carter-Williams' 4th.
|@ ESPNAndyKatz : Well, that's how you get yourself out of a struggling night. Jam. Power play by James Southerland for SU highlight of the night. Game on.|
|@ SIPeteThamel : That's Michigan's final time out. Insert Michigan Final Four joke here.|
James Southerland got the ball on the left wing, drove into the paint and threw down a one-handed dunk. Then Michigan called another timeout to avoid another 5-second violation. 53-49 Michigan.
Southerland misses a 3 from the right wing. He's 0 for 7 from the field. 2:15 left and Michigan leads 53-47. Burke turned the ball over with a bad pass that went out of bounds.
Michael Carter-Williams forced a turnover. The ball went to Triche at half court and he found Fair on his right for a big dunk. 53-47 Michigan.
Michigan calls timeout to avoid a 5-second violation.
|@ rushthecourt : Felt like Michigan was hanging on for dear life in the last several minutes, but Syracuse never made them pay for it with scores.|