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2013 NCAA TOURNAMENT REGIONAL RECAPS AND FINAL FOUR PREVIEW
It’s odd to claim two teams prominently ranked during the season are unexpected attendees of the Final Four. Yet due to their lackluster finishes, few brackets had Syracuse and Michigan penciled into an Atlanta excursion. But if the absurdity of this college basketball campaign has proven anything, it’s that parity is more prevalent than ever.
Not to say the Orange and Wolverines aren’t warranting of this distinction. The Maize and Blue pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in tournament history in the Sweet 16, as a Trey Burke game-tying three erased a 14-point deficit to force overtime with No. 1 seed Kansas. The Wolverines withstood a late Jayhawks charge in the extra period to advance to the Elite Eight, where they wiped the floor with the Florida Gators to earn the school’s first Final Four appearance since 1993. Syracuse’s endeavor was just as challenging, ruining their fair share of brackets by defeating Indiana in their Sweet 16 battle. And though it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, the Orange’s 55-39 victory over Marquette puts Jim Boeheim in position to capture his second NCAA title in his storied career.
The Wolverines are spurred by the sophomore Burke, who averages nearly 19 points per contest. And while the pedigrees of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III are nationally known, freshman Mitch McGary is making a name for himself in the tournament, averaging 17.5 points and 11.5 boards in the past four games. Syracuse’s attack is slightly more balanced, with C.J. Fair and Brandon Triche leading the scoring push. However, the Orange will only go as far as Michael Carter-Williams, as the guard’s vision and defense fuels Syracuse on both sides of the floor. - Joel Beall
A team from Kansas will be in the Final Four, but it isn’t No. 1 seed KU or No. 4 seed KSU. Shockingly, No. 9 seed Wichita State advanced over Pittsburgh, Gonzaga, La Salle, and THE Ohio State University for a chance to play in Atlanta in the game before THE game. First, they must survive and advance the overall-No. 1 seed Louisville. The Big East tournament champions had to overcome the tough loss of teammate Kevin Ware whose gruesome broken leg acted as an emotional and motivational moment against Duke. Only up three at halftime, Louisville persevered and pulled away with a 22-point victory to advance to the Final Four.
Rick Pitino’s posse has won by an average of 21.8 points per game throughout the NCAA tourney, while Gregg Marshall’s men have only won by 10.5 ppg. The lone Missouri Valley Conference rep remaining may have shredded your bracket, but these guys have been successful for a while. Since 2009, the Shockers have tallied 25-plus wins each season. The Shockers also won the 2011 NIT.
Prediction: Louisville is a team on a mission now that they are playing for their injured friend. Wichita State tried as hard as they could to let the Buckeyes win on Saturday, but Thad Matta’s three-point shooters would have none of it. If I had a Third Chance bracket, I’d have Louisville cutting down the nets in Atlanta. - Adam Meyer