(4) Michigan (30-7) vs. (4) Syracuse (30-9)
Offense: Michigan’s shooters have the ability to overcome Syracuse’s zone. And the Wolverines have a lot of them. Four players average at least 11 points, led by point guard and national player of the year Trey Burke’s 18.8 per game. The Wolverines are shooting 49.4 percent in tournament play and 40.2 percent of their 3-pointers, none bigger than Burke’s to force overtime against Kansas. The Wolverines average only 9.4 turnovers per game, fewest in the nation. Advantage: Michigan.
Defense: The Orange’s 2-3 zone has flustered teams for years. They limit opponents to 36.8 percent shooting and only 58.6 points per game. On 3-pointers, opponents hit only 28.2 percent. Their length produces 6.2 blocks per game. Michigan allows opponents to shoot 42.3 percent and average 62.9 points. Advantage: Syracuse.
Coaching: Through different paths, Michigan’s John Beilein and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim have become two of the nation’s best coaches. But Boeheim is a mastermind. He’s looking for his second NCAA tournament title after winning in 2003. Advantage: Syracuse.
Intangibles: Talking trash almost always backfires. Syracuse players sounded a little overly confident Friday as Michael Carter-Williams suggested the Orange have a clear advantage. The Wolverines seem like the looser team. Advantage: Michigan.
The winner: Michigan.