Basketball has always been a young mans game, but in the 2013 NCAA tournament Michigan has taken that to a whole different level and on Saturday night against Syracuse it was once again the youngsters that led the way as the Wolverines won 61-56 despite the Orange's best efforts and a seemingly crumbling group of youngsters for the Maize 'N Blue.
Player of the game? That has to be Mitch McGary and not just for his double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds (yes his foul shooting was awful), but more importantly he was key in breaking apart the Syracuse zone defense by hitting shots from the elbow and dishing out a team high 6 assists on the night.
His fellow freshman came through in a big way as well, minus Nic Stauskas (who was 0-for the field), with Glen Robinson III adding 10 points and 6 rebounds to go with Caris LeVert's 8 points and 4 rebounds in a winning effort.
Credit a cast of players we know, but in the end it was a group of players that the general public were only introduced to tonight as now bit players Jordan Morgan, Jon Horford, and Caris Levert keyed the Wolverines down the stretch.
The game was less than perfect, with both teams shooting less than 64% from the free throw line just as an example. However, if anyone was going to win a close game down the stretch it would only make sense that a team from the conference that featured the most insane and crazy finishes all season would find a way to pull it out when literally everything was swinging the other way.
Saturday night's game also showed that defense and effort can win you ballgames as Michigan held the Orange to just 3-14 from three point range and the disparity between the Michigan makes from behind the arc (8) and Syracuse makes (3) was more than enough to overcome anything Syracuse tried to do at the rim down the stretch of the game.
Following the win we're amazingly still talking about a Michigan team that is perfect... again PERFECT against competition outside of the Big Ten. Maybe, just maybe there's something to this whole "Big Ten being the best conference in the country" thing, huh?
You know, since the 5th best team in the conference just made the national title game and all. Carry that Big Ten flag proudly Michigan, you are going to need it on Monday night as you take on Louisville.