Michigan going from feel-good story to serious contender

Images and sounds from Michigan's upset victory (0:39)

Moritz Wagner pours in a career-high 26 points and propels 7-seed Michigan past Louisville. The Wolverines are the third Big Ten team to reach the Sweet 16. (0:39)

INDIANAPOLIS -- The fairy-tale descriptions of Michigan's late-season surge will persist with Sunday's 73-69 win over Louisville, a 2-seed picked by many to reach the Final Four and perhaps snatch a third national championship for coach Rick Pitino.

Now, the perception of this Michigan squad should shift because Moritz Wagner and the Wolverines could push this offensive monsoon -- Michigan scored 40 points in the paint -- to the Final Four in Glendale, Arizona.

The Wolverines didn't look as pretty as the squad that nearly put 100 points on the board Friday against Oklahoma State. That's why they're certain threats in a Midwest Region that seems as conquerable as any in the field. They didn't need the 3-ball to beat a titan.

When the team's plane crashed through a fence as it was about to take off from Ypsilanti Township, Michigan, prior to the Big Ten tournament, the Wolverines wondered if and when they'd touch down in Washington, D.C., the site of the tournament. They arrived and won the whole thing.

And if they'd lost to a good Oklahoma State squad in the first round, they would not have endured much criticism, considering the ordeal they had overcome to reach this point.

But the Michigan team that waltzed into the Sweet 16 via Sunday's win and D.J. Wilson's 17-point outing solved one America's strongest teams. Wagner looked like a pro as he helped his team navigate an early deficit and misconnections from the perimeter.

While Michigan's offense flexed the betting lines in Las Vegas this week, its defense -- Louisville missed nine of 10 3-point attempts and committed five turnovers in the second half -- swayed the game in Michigan's favor after the score was locked at 55-55 with nearly seven minutes to play.

Before Sunday's game, Pitino called Michigan "the Golden State Warriors." Perhaps both will enjoy a title run this season.