Louisville vs. Michigan: Previewing Monday’s Showdown
Again, like Smith and Burke, these two won’t be guarding each other, but they are the next most important guards on their respective teams.
Siva has struggled from the field so far this tournament, shooting under 40% in three of Louisville’s five games. But his defensive hustle and his ability to get into the lane make him one of Louisville’s most valuable players.
Hardaway Jr. has also struggled from the field, but has hit some huge shots for the Wolverines. With 13 threes in 5 games, Hardaway Jr. will demand a lot of attention from the Louisville defense, probably guarded mostly by Chane Behanan and Luke Hancock.
Glenn Robinson III vs. Luke Hancock
GRIII has had an extremely efficient tournament, shooting 28 for 44 from the field. He’s also been outstanding on the boards, with 5 offensive rebounds against both Kansas and Syracuse. Plus his length on the defensive end can really frustrate opponents.
Hancock has had a solid tournament, especially since the Kevin Ware injury. He was quite possibly Louisville’s MVP against Wichita State, scoring 20 points on 6 for 9 shooting with 3 triples. Along with Siva and Smith, Hancock is another guy that can get into the heart of a defense, so the Wolverines will need to keep him at bay.
The Other Guys
No team is getting to the NCAA Tournament Championship game without a little help from bench players and key role players. Ware was a huge role player for the Cardinals to lose, but they’ve received some big minutes from Freshman Montrezl Harrell, while starting Forwards Behanan and Wayne Blackshear have provided the backbone to the Louisville press when on the court. But it was Junior Tim Henderson that came through with a few key shots against Wichita State, two three pointers that helped propel the Cardinals down the stretch.
Michigan’s biggest X-Factor without a doubt is Freshman Nik Stauskas. When he’s getting open and hitting his shots, the Wolverines offense gains a whole new level. He shot 0-4 from beyond the arc against Syracuse and 6-6 from three against Florida. Which Stauskas shows up against Louisville could go a long way in determining the game’s outcome. But outside Stauskas, the Wolverines have two key big men off their bench with Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford, as well as a high-energy backup point guard in Spike Albrecht and a solid winger in Caris LeVert, both of which really came through for the team against Syracuse.