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NCAA Basketball Championship 2013 — Louisville vs. Michigan Preview

NCAA Basketball Championship
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The NCAA basketball championship is tonight. It’s the Big East against the Big 10 for the national title, as Louisville (33-5) meets Michigan (31-7) for the 2013 NCAA national championship in Atlanta. 

The NCAA basketball championship will be played in the Georgia Dome and tip off is 9:23 p.m. (ET) on CBS.

The Cardinals advanced by overcoming a 12-point deficit to Wichita State on Saturday, while the Wolverines held off Syracuse in a thrilling Final Four match-up. Here are three things each team needs to do to win the 2013 NCAA basketball championship on Monday:

Keys to a Louisville victory:

Get Russ Smith Going: Though Cardinals’ guard Russ Smith led the team with 21 points against Wichita State, his shooting touch was off. Smith was 6-for-17 from the field and 5-for-12 from the free throw line on Saturday, allowing the Shockers to take the lead and stay close late. Smith and fellow guard Peyton Siva will have to be more accurate against the Michigan backcourt of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.

Attack Mitch McGary: Even more than Wooden Award winner Trey Burke, freshman forward Mitch McGary has been the key player for the Wolverines in the NCAA tournament. McGary fills out the stat sheet and can defend well. Center Gorgui Dieng and forward Chane Behanan must force McGary to run the floor, defend against post-ups and drives, and earn his points on offense. McGary shoots just 45 percent from the free throw line.

Rely On Experience: The Cardinals are a veteran team. Even when they were down 12 points in the second half to Wichita State on Saturday, Louisville never seemed to be out of the game. When Smith and Siva couldn’t click, coach Rick Pitino enlisted reserves Luke Hancock and Tim Henderson to help trigger the comeback. The Cardinals want to wear down the young Wolverines if they hope to raise the NCAA basketball championship trophy at the end.

Keys to a Michigan victory:

Handle The Pressure: Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. should help the Wolverines break the Cardinals’ press much like they did against VCU in the round of 32. However, Louisville will harass and pressure the ball in the half court, too. Michigan must be able to overcome the flicking of Russ Smith and Peyton Siva, as well as any NCAA basketball championship jitters.

Make Louisville Work: Michigan frustrated Syracuse into shooting just 21 percent from behind the 3-point line and 42 percent overall. While many Cardinals can shoot the three, Louisville also gets significant points off put-backs and lay-ups. If the Wolverines can force Peyton Siva and Russ Smith to run a half-court offense, it should be to their advantage.

Dominate The Glass: While Mitch McGary has been Michigan’s leading rebounder in the NCAA tournament, Burke, Hardaway and Glenn Robinson III all crash the boards, too. The Wolverines should win the rebounding battle at both ends, which may enable them to control the tempo.

Who do you think will be the crowned the 2013 NCAA basketball champions? Let us know in the comments.

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