ATLANTA -- The Michigan Wolverines, a team that features the national player of the year and multiple stars with NBA lineage, are in the NCAA championship game thanks to a freshman that couldn't crack the starting lineup until late in the season.
Mitch McGary had 10 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and two blocked shots, leading Michigan past Syracuse 61-56 on Saturday night at the Georgia Dome.
The fourth-seeded Wolverines will face No. 1 seed Louisville in the national championship game on Monday night.
Michigan (31-7) built an 11-point halftime lead and fought off multiple challenges from the Orange in the second half to advance to the final for the first time since 1993.
McGary put on a show for the second largest crowd in NCAA Tournament history, which included actor Will Ferrell, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson.
McGary threw no-look passes, slammed home momentum-shifting dunks and hit a mid-range jumper that thwarted a second-half challenge from Syracuse. The only thing he didn't do was seal the game at the foul line.
Leading 57-53 with 57 seconds to play, McGary missed two free throws, opening the door for the Orange, who saw their starting backcourt of Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche foul out.
James Southerland's 3-pointer cut the lead to three, but Syracuse would not get any closer. Michigan reserve Jordan Morgan took a charge and finished off the win with a breakaway dunk.
Michigan's strategy for attacking Syracuse's 2-3 zone was evident quickly. The Wolverines launched 17 3-pointers in the first half, connecting on six. Michael Albrecht and Carl Levert each came off the bench to hit two 3-pointers, and Trey Burke buried a deep 3 from the top of the key that helped Michigan take a 36-25 lead into the locker room.
The Orange tried to make a push early in the second half, but the Wolverines had an answer. Tim Hardaway Jr. nailed an early 3-pointer, and Glen Robinson and McGary had back-to-back dunks that pushed the lead back to 11 and forced Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim to call timeout.
But C.J. Fair wouldn't let the Orange go away quietly. He fueled a Syracuse rally and hit a left-handed jumper along the baseline that cut the deficit to 48-45 with 7:15 to play.
Fair had a game-high 22 points and Triche finished with 11.
Hardaway led the Wolverines with 13 points and Robinson had 10. Burke, the national player of the year, was held to seven points on 1-of-8 shooting from the field.
Michigan never trailed after taking the lead at the nine-minute mark of the first half.
NOTES: The two teams played in front of the second-largest crowd (75,350) in NCAA Tournament history. ... Michigan reached the Final Four for the fifth time and first since 1993. ... Boeheim is the fourth coach to guide a team to the Final Four in four difference decades. ... Triche has played in more games than any other player in school history. ... The Wolverines entered the game at 17-0 versus nonconference competition this season. ... Indiana coach Tom Crean, former UConn coach Jim Calhoun and former Louisville coach Denny Crum were all seated together.