I’ve been doing my best to avoid coverage of tonight’s championship game between Louisville and Michigan. I’m still bitter that Syracuse lost to Michigan on Saturday and the last thing I want to see are Michigan and Louisville fans in Atlanta getting ready for tonight’s game. The Orange had a great run and making our first Final Four in ten years is nothing to be ashamed of. But as often happens in sports fandom, my expectations got the best of me and I expected to beat Michigan. My friends and I were understandably deflated when we didn’t get the outcome we expected.
Last month, I didn’t think this team was capable of a tournament run but after a solid Big East Tournament and an upset over top-seeded Indiana, my expectations completely changed. I wanted a rematch (well a 4th match-up) with Louisville in the finals and I thought we were definitely going to get it. I felt even more confident after Trey Burke started out so cold from the field on Saturday night. But the Wolverines held a sizable halftime lead and we were forced to play catch up for the whole second half.
Despite being the more experienced team and having our zone look the best it has in years, Michigan was able to do enough to win. They dominated the boards, grabbing 13 offensive rebounds and they shot well enough over the zone (8 threes). The best moment of the game for me was Southerland’s three to get within three points. Unfortunately, it was only one of three three-pointers we hit all game – not exactly a formula for winning.
The end of the game also had some questionable calls, especially on the fifth foul calls for Carter-Williams and Triche. But that’s no excuse. Fair led the way with 22 points but we didn’t get much scoring from anyone else. Our final possession was especially frustrating. We didn’t even give ourselves a chance to tie the game by taking a running two when we were down by three. Syracuse could have won the game but didn’t do enough and that’s the way it goes sometimes.
It was a great season but it ends with a bitter taste in my mouth, just as last year’s did. There’s only two seniors on this team (Triche and Southerland) but they are both big contributors. Losing them and moving to the ACC make it tough to speculate how the team will do next year. It seems like Boeheim will be back and I certainly didn’t think this year’s team was capable of such a run – so you never know.