And then there were two.
Following Saturday’s Final Four match-ups in Atlanta, the stage is set for Monday’s NCAA men’s basketball championship where overall No. 1-seeded Louisville will face off against Michigan to take home the coveted NCAA title.
This will be the first game between the two teams, who play in different conferences, since 1978.
Michigan vs. Syracuse
In a tight game that seemed up for grabs by either team for much of the night, Michigan edged out Syracuse 65-56 to advance to the NCAA title game.
The Orange’s storied 2-3 zone defense, the shield wall that helped carry the team through the tournament, was not enough to hold back the ferocious Wolverines bent on winning their first national title since 1989.
Despite a sloppy second half and rough night for star point guard Trey Burke, who scored only seven points, Michigan held it together in the end. A triumphant, but ultimately unnecessary, slam dunk by Jordan Morgan scored the final points to cap the win.
Syracuse was looking to give coach Jim Boeheim another title since the team’s last trip to the Final Four a decade ago. But the 68-year-old Boeheim has no plans to retire, his quest for a championship, however, is on hold for another year.
Louisville vs. Wichita State
Louisville fought a hard won battle against perceived underdogs Wichita State. The Shockers, on a tear this tournament having felled giants like Ohio State and Gonzaga, brought that same level of play to the Final Four.
In the end, however, the Cardinals rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half to win 72-68.
As ESPN puts it, “The Cardinals overcame not just Wichita State but themselves to advance to the national title game.”
Despite not having made it to the Final Four since 1965, Wichita initially “looked like the team who had been there before,” The Associated Press reports. At its highest point, the No. 9 team was up 47-35.
During the game, NPR’s Linda Holmes tweeted:
ESPN gives credit to Louisville’s bench for ultimately pulling it off. USA Today reports:
“… [Louisville] got key contributions from two reserves — Luke Hancock and walk-on Tim Henderson — to rally from an 12-point second-half deficit and hold off the Shockers, 72-68, at the Georgia Dome.”
The top-seeded team ached without sophomore Kevin Ware, who broke his leg during the Cardinals’ game with Duke last weekend. (If his good spirits showed before, they were glowing from the bench Saturday.)
The title game is Monday, when Louisville will face the winner of the ongoing Michigan-Syracuse game.