ATLANTA -- The possibility that became reality following Michigan's 61-56 win over Syracuse in the Final Four on Saturday night began to materialize weeks ago.
As the Wolverines stomped Jackrabbits (South Dakota State), corralled Rams (Virginia Commonwealth), caged Jayhawks (Kansas) and wrestled Gators (Florida) to pave their path toward the national semifinals, they awakened the way contenders must in March.
But every scenario that involved Michigan competing in its first national championship game in 20 years would demand another phenomenal effort by Trey Burke -- America's best player -- conventional wisdom suggested.
Those ideas did not include Mitch McGary (10 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists) playing like a lottery pick. Again. Or Caris LeVert logging 21 minutes and going 3-for-4 in Atlanta. Spike Albrecht (2-for-2 from beyond the arc) wasn't even mentioned.
Jon Horford making the most important free throw of the game, while Burke struggled in a Michigan victory? Unimaginable … to everyone else.
"It's not a one-man team," said Tim Hardaway Jr. "Everybody in the media has been talking about it. That's why it's a team. It's a team win. That's what we focus on. We know Trey is our leader. He's not going to have a game like he's [usually had] the whole season. That's when our team steps up, just tries to picks him up. He really doesn't need it, but we try to pick it up anyway, try to go out there and do a great job of competing."
Prior to Saturday's win, the concept of Michigan reaching its first national championship matchup since the Fab Five wore maize and blue was nullified by one thought: What if Burke goes cold?
To read Myron Medcalf's full story, click here.