The Michigan Wolverines are just one game away from playing for the NCAA men’s basketball national championship. But first, they must play the Syracuse Orange in tonight’s national semi-final in Atlanta.
The Wolverines will have to solve the mystery of Syracuse's zone defense, which has perplexed all their opponents so far in the March Madness tournament.
“You can’t simulate it in practice,” U of M coach John Beilein told reporters earlier this week, “It’s a thing we have to work at and we’ll be as ready as we can be.”
But U of M does have a weapon of its own: Guard Trey Burke. This week, Burke was named the Associated Press national college basketball player of the year.
The two teams may not know each other well, but the two coaches have known each other for decades. U of M’s John Beilein and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim not only coached against each other for years, Boeheim helped Beilein work his way up the coaching ladder. The two also worked side by side at summer basketball camps.
This is the Wolverines first trip to the Final Four in 20 years. U of M won the title in 1989. It’s been ten years since Syracuse played in the Final Four, but they won the title in 2003.
If the Wolverines win, they face the winner of the Louisville-Wichita State game in Monday’s national championship.