Louisville vs. Michigan: Score and Twitter Reaction from March Madness 2017 – Bleacher Report

Michigan's Derrick Walton Jr. (10) heads to the basket as Louisville's Anas Mahmoud defends during the first half of a second-round game in the men's NCAA college basketball tournament Sunday, March 19, 2017, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2017

The unstoppable force slammed through the immovable object Sunday as No. 7 Michigan completed a second-half comeback to take down No. 2 Louisville, 73-69, in the Midwest Regional at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The rematch of the 2013 title game was a classic in its own right, with the Cardinals leading for nearly 29 minutes and dominating the game with its monster frontcourt, until the Wolverines showed up late, led by Derrick Walton Jr.’s timely senior performance. Michigan shot 17-of-27 in the second half, outscoring the Cardinals, 45-33.

Walton had an off day for Michigan until late in the second half, shooting 3-of-13 with 10 points. Moritz Wagner compensated in the meantime with a game-high 26, while D.J. Wilson added 17 and Zak Irvin 11.

Louisville threw everything it had at the Wolverines, with three players in double digits, led by 19 from Donovan Mitchell. The Cardinals won the battle on the glass (37-30), and their bench even outscored Michigan’s, 15-3.

Michigan, after a plane mishap, a Big Ten title push and making it this far, didn’t blink while pulling off the upset late. The Twitterverse responded in kind:

Both teams took different paths to Sunday’s encounter, outcomes that offered hints of what to expect. Louisville (ranked seventh in ESPN’s RPI rankings) dominated No. 15 Jacksonville State, 78-63, winning the battle on the glass, 36-23. Michigan (30th in the RPI), needed 26 points from Walton and 55.2 percent shooting from deep to slip past No. 10 Oklahoma State, 92-91.

The first half was as entertaining as advertised—with highlights and trash talk leading the way—as Louisville jumped out to a 36-28 advantage on the strength of an 8-0 run to close the half.

With the way Louisville imposed its will underneath the basket, it certainly felt like the Cardinals should have had a bigger lead. The Cardinals won the rebounding war (24-16) and Mangok Mathiang scored seven points in as many minutes on strong shooting (3-of-4).

To put it into perspective, Louisville had 14 points in the paint with under 10 minutes left while Michigan had 16 total points. The Wolverines couldn’t get anything going, especially with Walton starting slow (0-of-6) before finishing the half with five points.

All signs of momentum favored the Cardinals, especially once Deng Adel checked in with his dunk-of-the-tournament contender:

Eric Crawford of WDRB in Louisville captured head coach Rick Pitino‘s reaction to his guys’ strong runs:

Pitino’s animated trots on the sideline had him looking quite familiar:

Credit: Allstate

Call it an electric environment all around—ESPN.com’s Myron Medcalf provided a few examples: “So much trash talk between the two teams right now. D.J. Wilson hit a shot and chirped at Mangok Mathiang. Donovan Mitchell went at Derrick Walton Jr. after he hit his first shot. Intense out here.”

Nothing about the showdown slowed in the second half, though Michigan sped up and closed the gap, not even attempting a shot from deep over the first nine minutes, which was something of a strategy by both sides. Louisville was content to avoid an onslaught of deep shots by a talented shooting team.

But a team—even one coached by Pitino—can only stave off an onslaught for so long.

Michigan took the lead with about five minutes left, jumping out to a 63-57 advantage via strong defense and a return to form from the field, as noted by Sports Illustrated‘s Seth Davis:

Walton led the return to form, though Louisville wasn’t doing itself any favors by fouling before the ball was inbounded with three seconds left on the shot clock.

Momentum snowballing, Michigan didn’t have trouble taking advantage:

Walton, seeking tournament-legend status, fended off a Louisville push on his own:

After a triumph Sunday, Michigan advances to the Sweet 16 for a dance with either 11th-seeded Rhode Island or third-seeded Oregon, with neither providing much of a reprieve in the physicality department.

After Sunday’s performance, though, Walton and the Wolverines will show up ready for the challenge.


Advanced metrics courtesy of ESPN.com.

Louisville vs. Michigan: Score and Twitter Reaction from March Madness 2017 – Bleacher Report

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