Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Final Four teams have different strengths

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 31:  Peyton Siva #3 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrates on court after they won 85-63 against the Duke Blue Devils during the Midwest Regional Final round of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 31, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) 159452879

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 31: Peyton Siva #3 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrates on court after they won 85-63 against the Duke Blue Devils during the Midwest Regional Final round of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 31, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) 159452879

ATLANTA — An inspired Louisville squad vs. the surprising Shockers.

Related News/Archive

A new group of Fab Wolverines vs. the stingiest zone defense in college basketball.

After a weekend of blowouts and another upset, the Final Four is set.

Top overall seed Louisville faces Wichita State in one national semifinal at the Georgia Dome on Saturday, and Michigan takes on Syracuse in the other.

In the final year of the Big East as it is currently known, Louisville and Syracuse have provided a fitting sendoff for a league that quickly became a basketball powerhouse after it was founded in 1979. Before it splits into a new-look Big East and another conference and loses members to other conferences next season, this version has a shot at one more national title.

With two teams, no less.

The Cardinals — who, with Syracuse, are moving to the ACC — are the only No. 1 seed to make it to the Final Four. Louisville won its four Midwest Region games by an average of nearly 22 points.

"This is a gritty bunch," coach Rick Pitino said. "From the beginning of the year to now, they've not had a bad game. I'm really proud of these guys."

Though the Cardinals are the clear favorite heading to their second straight Final Four, Wichita State is the most improbable team to advance. The ninth-seeded Shockers lived up to their nickname in the West Region, knocking off top-seeded Gonzaga in the second round and No. 2 seed Ohio State in the region final Saturday.

The Shockers need an even bigger stunner to knock off Louisville, the one team in a wide-open tournament that has looked unbeatable. Then again, that other team from Kansas has shown no fear.

"It feels very good," said Cleanthony Early, a junior forward who, like most Shockers, was passed over by higher-profile programs. "But we understand the fact that we've got to stay hungry and humble, because we've got two more games left to really be excited about."

Young Michigan has its work cut out for it against Syracuse, which has stuffed NCAA opponents with a stifling zone defense. The Orange heads to its first Final Four since winning it all in 2003 largely because it has allowed fewer than 46 points a game in the tournament.

Syracuse has been like an octopus when it settles in around the lane, shutting off passing routes, preventing anyone from penetrating, yet defending the 3-point line with quickness and long arms. Montana, California, top-seeded Indiana and Marquette combined to shoot just under 29 percent from the field (61-of-211) and 15.4 percent (14-of-91) outside the arc.

"We were as active these two games (East Region semifinal and final) here in Washington as we've ever been," coach Jim Boeheim said after Saturday's final win over league rival Marquette. "I just really can't say enough about how good these guys played on the defensive end of the court."

Said Michigan guard Trey Burke: "A lot of guys said we were really young and that we couldn't get here. We're here now, and we still have unfinished business."

Final Four teams have different strengths 03/31/13 [Last modified: Sunday, March 31, 2013 11:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs talk social issues, protests at team meeting

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Each time Dirk Koetter walks through the door of his office at One Buc Place, he passes by the only jersey framed on his wall.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) wears custom cleats to represent Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) as part of the NFL???‚??„?s "My Cause, My Cleats Campaign" before the start of a football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016.
  2. The 10 silliest names for college football bowl games

    College

    The Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl hadn't even been officially announced when SBNation called it the silliest bowl name ever. Ten others worthy of consideration:

    Logo for the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. [MATT BAKER | Times]
  3. Austin Pruitt faces the Blue Jays tonight at the Trop.
  4. USF football and the undefeated degree of difficulty

    College

    TAMPA — In the wake of the latest solar eclipse, USF fans eagerly await the next astronomical phenomenon.

    USF head coach Charlie Strong leads his team during practice last month in Tampa.
  5. Nature Coast puts unbeaten streak on the line vs. IMG White

    Footballpreps

    BROOKSVILLE — Nature Coast currently rides a 22-game regular-season win streak, but first-year football coach Cory Johns was not around for any of those wins. Neither was most of his coaching staff. This is an entirely new campaign with new obstacles ahead.

    Nature Coast offensive lineman Louis Miele (66) blocks a Sunlake defensive player during the Clash 4 Clayton football scrimmage and fundraiser Aug. 12 at Springstead High School.