When they were needed the most, Syracuse’s main offensive weapons were unable to deliver.
Michigan will now go for their first national title since 1989 after defeating the Orange 61-56 in the second semi-final, that despite their star player Trey Burke only scoring seven points.
Tim Hardaway Jr. led the victorious Wolverines with 13 points, supported by Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary, who each scored 10 points, the latter pulling down 12 rebounds but the real hero for Michigan was Jordan Morgan, who took a charge with 19.2 seconds left to deny Brandon Triche with the score at 58-56.
It was fitting that Morgan finished the job with a transition slam to send the Michigan fans wild.
It was a rush of blood from Triche who didn’t seem in control when he drove to the lane – and unfortunately – Syracuse were unable to tie the game plus it cost them their first visit to the final since winning it in 2003.
Michigan won this game though by executing a perfect game plan, which was simple: Counter the Orange’s zone defence by connecting on their open shots and out rebound them. The Wolverines did just that, hitting eight triples and they crashed the glass, winning 36-32, with 13 of those 36 being offensive.
Syracuse fought back in the second half; for so long they had trailed by double digits but a quick-fire 6-0, highlighted by a jumper from CJ Fair narrowed it to 45-41. Michigan were on the ropes, forcing coach John Beilein to call a timeout. From there, Hardaway Jr. needed two attempts but eventually gave his side a bit more of a cushion with a three. The Orange brought it to within a point with 42 seconds left but they couldn’t match the patient build-up play of their opponents who kept their heads.
The reward: A championship game against Louisville.
Fair led the Orange with a game-high 22 points but the wait for another national title game will have to go on another year.