Hardcourt Correspondent, White Cover Magazine
On Monday, Trey Burke and Michigan will take their No. 4 seed against the only team we knew would be here all along — Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals.
That’s a bit of an exaggeration We never know who will and won’t be there. Every years provides its own barrel of surprises, although the Final never seems to be as improbably as we think.
There’s always a rhyme and rhythm to these things. It’s just that not all of us see it in advance.
In Trey Burke and in his Michigan Wolverines, the signs were there all along. They were undefeated 16 games into this season, but then Ohio State and the deep deepness of the Big 10 got to them and knocked them down. They never lost their ranking, but inconsistent was the one label you’d firmly attach to this squad.
Of course, Burke is (arguably) the best player in the country, and then the Wolverines just waited for the seas to part. Syracuse was great, but they weren’t everything. The Wolverines needed one miracle moment to thrust them into the title game, and that was Burke’s well-timed three against Kansas. Aside from that, everything else — the early wins over San Diego State, VCU, and eventually Florida — look like part of the pattern.
No. 4’s don’t get many endorsements in these tournaments but, when you think about it, they don’t need much. If they beat the No. 1 (presumably) in the Elite Eight, then they get a shot at No. 3. It sounds like a tall task, but it’s only two games.
After that, they’re already in the Final Four, and — if March Madness features as much parity in the future as it has in its recent past — then we’ll all be wondering why we didn’t have Michigan or Syracuse or UConn going further.
The Huskies of ’11 were so much better than nearly everyone else, and their No. 4 seed that year undersold them greatly.
Kemba Walker was a force. A complete standout at every corner of the court. He wasn’t much unlike Burke, or maybe Burke wasn’t much unlike him.
The Huskies — like Michigan — simple played their own game while they waited for the rest of the league to flesh itself out. They waited for the dominos to fall and clouds to disappear.
When it all ended, UConn was standing there with only Butler in their way. Sure, those Bulldogs were pesky and all. They were charming. Everybody loved them. But, they weren’t champions.
Unfortunately for Michigan, though, Louisville isn’t charming at all.