Final Four Preview: Michigan vs Loyola-Chicago

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Tonight, the Michigan Wolverines face off against this year’s Cinderella, the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers. The winner of tonight’s tilt earns a berth in the National Championship game.

Tip off: 6:09pm EST

Key Players

MichiganMoritz Wagner (14.3 points per game, 6.9 rebounds per game), Charles Matthews (13 points per game, 5.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists), Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (12.8 points per games, 3.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists).

Loyola-ChicagoClayton Custer (13.2 points per game, 4.2 assists), Donte Ingram (11.3 points per game, 6.3 rebounds), Cameron Crutwig (10.3 points per game, 6.1 rebounds)

X-Factors

Michigan: G Zavier Simpson (7.5 points per game, 1.3 steals). Likely the best on-ball defender that Michigan has to offer, Simpson’s best effort will be quite necessary for the Wolverines to put an end to the Cinderella story that Loyola-Chicago has put together in this tournament.

Loyola-Chicago: F Aundre Jackson (11 points per game, 3.3 rebounds). Jackson, who averages 19.1 minutes per game, will need to play a big role in slowing down Michigan’s Wagner.

ESPN’s matchup predictor gives Michigan a 73.6% chance of winning tonight’s game, and advancing to Monday’s National Championship game, while the spread shows that the Wolverines are generally a five or 5.5 point favorite.

The folks at SportsLine have used their software models to simulate the game a total of 10,000 times, with an average final score of Michigan 64 Loyola-Chicago 54. In those simulations, Wagner averaged 14.4 points, while Abdur-Rahkman averaged 13.

If the Wolverines are able to pull out a victory tonight, they will become the first team in the history of the NCAA tournament to advance to a championship game without defeating a team seeded fifth or higher.

The Wolverines last played in a National Championship game in 2013, when they were defeated by Louisville. Head coach John Beilein has never won a National Championship. The winner of tonight’s game will play either Villanova or Kansas on Monday. That game is scheduled to begin this evening at 8:49pm EST.