ATLANTA — Around the Final Four and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details of everything surrounding the games.
Michigan wants to follow the same gameplan it executed in the first half, showing millions how to break down a zone
Make 3-pointers. Move the ball into the post, then let the big fella create.
Forward Mitch McGary had four assists, yes, assists, to go with his six points and seven rebounds in the first half. Michael Albrecht and Caris Levert were 4 for 5 from 3-point range. No surprise, then, that Michigan is winning this thing by seven with 15:58 left in the second half.
If it seems like this game is going faster than the first semifinal that’s because there is more of a flow to it. It probably won’t turn into the foul-fest that slowed down the Louisville-Wichita State matchup.
Michigan doesn’t foul much, and the Wolverines don’t draw very many fouls either. At the end of the first half with Michigan leading 36-25 only eight fouls have been called.
Louisville and Wichita State combined for a total of 43 fouls.
On offense, Michigan is getting contributions from its bench. Caris LeVert – who at one point looked like he might redshirt the season – has made a couple 3-pointers. He had 11 3-pointers all season before the national semifinal.
A reminder of an infamous moment in Michigan basketball history can be seen near the court.
There’s a sign that says “TIME OUTS LEFT” with the No. 5 on it. Hard to tell if the tone is a mocking one or if it’s just a Michigan fan trying to be helpful. There is a block “M” on the message.
Former Michigan star Chris Webber called a timeout in the last seconds of the 1993 championship game against North Carolina – but the Wolverines didn’t have any left. The play resulted in technical fouls against Michigan and the Tar Heels went on to win 77-71.
Michigan fans are making their presence felt, but it isn’t helping the Wolverines find their shooting touch.
This is a road game for Syracuse. The Orange are well-represented but they’re outnumbered by Michigan fans. And the Wolverines faithful are loud.
SYRACUSE vs. MICHIGAN
Louisville’s got next.
Now, Syracuse and Michigan are playing to see which other team gets to stay on the court.
The Wolverines and Orange have tipped off the second half of the Final Four doubleheader at the Georgia Dome.
The winner between the No. 4 seeds will play Louisville, which rallied from a 12-point deficit to defeat Wichita State 72-68.
AIRCRAFT CARRIER vs. GEORGIA DOME
Syracuse forward James Southerland downplays the difficulties of shooting at the Georgia Dome.
“It can’t be worse than a ship,” Southerland said after practicing at the dome in preparation for the Final Four.
The Orange opened the season against San Diego State in a game played on an aircraft carrier.
The Final Four isn’t the first time the Georgia Dome has held a massive crowd by basketball standards.
On March 27, 1998, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls played the Atlanta Hawks in the Georgia Dome as the Hawks’ new Philips Arena was being built. The allure of seeing Jordan’s last visit to Atlanta with the Bulls attracted a crowd of 62,046 – the largest in NBA history.
Jordan, now owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, came back to Atlanta in his two seasons with the Washington Wizards.
Louisville is moving on to the national championship game.
Russ Smith scored 21 points, Luke Hancock added 20 off the bench and the Cardinals rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second half to beat Wichita State 72-68.
The Cardinals move on to face either Michigan or Syracuse in Monday night’s title game. Those teams will tip off in about a half hour at the Georgia Dome.
For the Shockers, a surprising run through the NCAA tournament is over.
Injured Louisville guard watched the game from the bench, his broken leg propped in a chair. He couldn’t even watch in the closing seconds, covering his eyes with his No. 5 jersey. But he was celebrating at the buzzer.