O'Neil: Michigan, Louisville earn their shot

ATLANTA -- Goldencents, a horse partially owned by Rick Pitino, won the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, earning a spot in the Kentucky Derby field.

The next race, inconsequential to all but the seasoned bettors, was won by a horse named Points Offthebench.

Still think destiny hasn't hitched its wagon to this season?

No, there is something going on here, something part mystical, part basketball. Otherwise, how to explain it all?

How to explain a national championship game pitting one team that has now survived a gruesome injury to a teammate in one weekend and a lousy game from itself in the next against an opponent that pulled off one epic comeback only to almost be done in by an epic collapse?

How to explain two star guards combining top shoot 2-for-17, including a 1-for-8 effort from the (nearly) consensus player of the year, and winning?

And how, most of all, to explain this: Michigan and Louisville, two teams with rock-solid starting fives, combining for 55 Points … Offthebench?

"Only great teams win that game,'' Louisville's Chane Behanan said of his team's victory -- but could very well have summed up the Wolverines', too. "Only great teams come from down six points with five or six minutes left and win.''

Destined teams often take on an air of greatness as the trophy presentation nears.

Great teams also start to bask in an aura of destiny.

The national championship game between Louisville, 72-68 rally winners against Wichita State, and Michigan, 61-56 survivors over Syracuse, is exactly that sort of matchup, a meeting of the illogical and the logical to culminate a season that has been plenty of both.

For Dana O'Neil's full column, click here.