Matchup: 3) Michigan, 32-7 vs. 11) Loyola-Chicago, 32-5
Location: San Antonio, Texas
Time: 6:09 pm
Line: Michigan -5.5
The Final Four is here!!! I would say it’s finally here, but this tournament always flies by, and it seems like it started yesterday, not two weeks ago. The Final Four will kick off with a matchup that no one saw coming. It’s the #3 seed Michigan Wolverines taking on the cinderella, the #11 seed Loyola-Chicago Ramblers.
There’s just so much to dissect in this game, and really a much more interesting matchup than everyone thinks. We have two unreal coaches in John Beilein and Porter Moser, and one of the most popular teams in the nation against the underdog that everyone wants to see win. We have two elite defensive teams in this game, as Michigan ranks 4th in defensive efficiency according to Kenpom.com, whereas Loyola-Chicago ranks 19th.
While defense has played a major role in getting both teams to the Final Four, it is the team basketball that the Wolverines and Ramblers play that is second-to-none. Yes, it sounds cliche. Team basketball. It seems like something that would be said by someone who is coaching a first grade basketball team. However, it truly applies to both teams. For Michigan, Mo Wagner, Charles Matthews, and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman each average over 12 points per game. Duncan Robinson also averages 9.5 points per game. When Robinson scores over 10 points this season, Michigan is undefeated. For Loyola-Chicago, Clayton Custer, Donte Ingram, Marques Townes, Aundre Jackson, and Cameron Krutwig all average over 10 points per game. That’s 5 players in double figures… PER GAME. Just watch the ball movement that goes on between these two teams tomorrow. Each of them is incredible to watch. There’s no bonafide superstar on either team, but rather a ton of good players who just know how to play together.
So let’s move on to what I think is going to happen in the game. This is going to be an extremely low scoring affair, as both teams are exceptional on defense, which I mentioned previously. While everyone reading this wants me to pick Sister Jean and Loyola-Chicago, I just can’t see it. You aren’t going to beat Michigan at their own game. What I see in Loyola-Chicago is Michigan, but with a little less talent. Both teams play so similarly, which is why I absolutely love this matchup. But for Sister Jean and the Ramblers, the luck will finally run out. John Beilein will take the Wolverines to their second National Championship since 2013 in a close, two-possession dogfight.
Michigan 63, Loyola-Chicago 58