Skip to content

2013 Final Four Primer

Mar 31, 2013, 11:28 PM EDT

NCAA final four

The last two participants in the Final Four punched their tickets on Saturday night, as Louisville knocked off Duke and Michigan ran over Florida, completing one of the most anticlimactic Elite 8s in the history of the Elite 8.

And that means it’s now official: No. 1 Louisville will be taking on No. 9 Wichita State on Saturday night at 6:09 p.m. ET in the Georgia Dome, with No. 4 Michigan taking on No. 4 Syracuse 40 minutes after the first game ends.

We’re going to have oh-so-much content rolling out over the next couple of days, but in order to get you prepped for the most anticipated three games of the college basketball season, here are seven thoughts to get the juices flowing:

1) Louisville has to be considered the favorite to win it all: Let’s start with the obvious: they were the favorite entering the tournament, and there is no one else left in the tournament seeded higher than fourth in their region. It’s simple math, really. Louisville was the best team in the country three weeks ago, and nothing about the way that they have played since Selection Sunday has done anything to convince us otherwise. Russ Smith has played like an all-american, Peyton Siva is showing everyone the value of having a veteran point guard as absurdly talented as he is, and Rick Pitino’s put them into a system where they can thrive.

2) But don’t be silly and count out Wichita State just yet: The Shockers beat Gonzaga, putting together one of the most impressive finishing kicks we’ve seen this season. They knocked off Ohio State, leading by as much as 20. Pitt and La Salle? They didn’t stand a chance. In fact, the Shockers have led by as much as 13 points in every game this tournament. They’re pretty good.

3) Michigan matches up pretty well with Syracuse: You need shooters to beat the Syracuse zone, and Michigan has that. You need length on the perimeter to be able to make that pass into the high post, and Michigan has that. You need someone to put at the high post that can be a threat to score, and Michigan has that. They also have Trey Burke, the best player in the country this season. Here’s the biggest question: who is Trey Burke going to guard? Can he stop Michael Carter-Williams or Brandon Triche if they want to get to the rim against him?

4) But that Syracuse zone is deadly: They’ve allowed just 0.72 PPP in four tournament games. By comparison, Stephen F. Austin led the country by allowing 0.843 PPP this season. Good luck, Michigan.

5) Don’t let me catch you calling the Big Ten overrated: It’s silly to base the success of a team or a conference on how well they perform in the NCAA tournament. Always has been and always will be. The NCAA tournament is all about matchups. That’s what happens when you’re dealing with a one-and-done knockout event. That’s what a team like Wichita State — or Butler or VCU or George Mason — is able to make a run to the Final Four. Do you think that the Shockers would beat Gonzaga in a five-game series? Do you really think that Florida Gulf Coast is one of the 16 best teams in the country?

To pull off an upset in the tournament, you need the right matchup, the right game-plan, flawless execution and a night where the opponent doesn’t play all that well. That Indiana and Syracuse, for example. The Orange had the length to bother Indiana’s guard, Cody Zeller picked the wrong night to struggle and Jordan Hulls was playing with a separated shoulder. Does that mean Syracuse is a better team? Or had a better season?

No. It means they had a better night.

And it certainly doesn’t mean that the Big East was a better conference that the Big Ten.

Because after all, the fifth-place Big Ten team is in the Final Four. Think about that.

6) Success in February isn’t a prerequisite to success in March: Wichita State started the season 15-1. They went 5-5 in their last 10 regular season games and lost to Creighton in the MVC title game. Syracuse was 18-1 before finishing the regular season 5-7. Michigan was 20-1 and was ranked No. 1 in the country at one point before going 5-5 in their last 10 and losing in the second round of the Big Ten tournament. All three of those teams managed to turn it around and make the Final Four. So much for momentum.

7) Another reason the demise of the Big East is sad?: This is the fourth straight year that the Big East tournament champion has made the Final Four. Louisville did it last year, UConn won the title in 2011 and West Virginia upset Kentucky to make the Final Four in 2010. In 2007, Georgetown made the Final Four as well.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Latest Posts
  1. Class of 2015 four-star wing down to three schools according to report

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:05 PM EDT

    adidas adidas

    Maverick Rowan is reportedly focused on three schools.

  2. UCF guard will transfer

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT

    ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 15:  Brandon Goodwin #11 of the UCF Knights drives to the net during an NCAA basketball game between the Houston Cougars and the UCF Knights at the CFE Arena on February 15, 2014 in Orlando, Florida. UCF won the game 56-54. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images) Getty Images

    UCF is losing its third-leading scorer from last season to transfer.

  3. Fred Hoiberg makes surprise appearance at Iowa State fantasy camp (VIDEO)

    Jun 29, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Former Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg returned to Hilton Coliseum to give one final pre-game speech before a fantasy camp.

  4. Re-ranking recruiting classes: Who are the 25 best players from the Class of 2004?

    Jun 29, 2015, 4:52 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    It should not be a surprise who the best player from this class ended up being.

  5. Bo Ryan to retire from Wisconsin after next season

    Jun 29, 2015, 1:40 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Ryan has never finished below fourth in the Big Ten.

  6. St. John’s lands Italian guard, eighth member of 2015 recruiting class

    Jun 29, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Mullin has completely turned over the St. John’s roster.

  7. So what happened to the chair Bobby Knight threw in 1985?

    Jun 29, 2015, 11:27 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Knight’s most famous outburst may be lost to history.

  8. USA Basketball: 16 college players to tryout for the Pan-Am Games

    Jun 29, 2015, 10:26 AM EDT

    USABasketballlogo

    There are 22 total players participating in the trials.

  9. UCLA lands four-star center, second 2017 commitment

    Jun 29, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Steve Alford AP

    Steve Alford now has a pair of 2017 commitments.

  10. LSU lands commitment from in-state star

    Jun 28, 2015, 6:29 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Johnny Jones has done an excellent job of recruiting his state in recent years.

  11. South Florida gets transfer guard from Big Ten program

    Jun 28, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    Penn State's Geno Thorpe (13) drives against Iowa's Melsahn Basabe on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa. Iowa won, 82-70. (Abby Drey/Centre Daily Times/MCT via Getty Images) Getty Images

    South Florida brought in an experienced guard who can contribute after sitting out a transfer season.

  12. Robert Carter has dropped nearly 20 pounds during time at Maryland

    Jun 28, 2015, 2:45 PM EDT

    robert carter Getty Images

    Maryland transfer Robert Carter has worked on his conditioning since arriving from Georgia Tech.

  13. USA U19 team beats Croatia in FIBA World Championships

    Jun 28, 2015, 1:19 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The USA U19 team is off to a 2-0 start at the FIBA World Championships.

  14. Four-star Class of 2016 big man cuts his list to 10

    Jun 28, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT

    (Scott Phillips/NBCSports.com) (Scott Phillips/NBCSports.com)

    A top-100 player in the Class of 2016 is down to 10 schools.

  15. Syracuse lands transfer center from the Big East

    Jun 28, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    Syracuse picked up a transfer big man that should help in the future.

  16. Mixtape of four-star Class of 2017 guard Trae Young (VIDEO)

    Jun 28, 2015, 9:15 AM EDT

    Nike Elite Youth Basketball League Getty Images

    Trae Young has been one of the best players of spring.

  17. UNCG placed on two years probation for NCAA rules violations

    Jun 27, 2015, 9:05 PM EDT

    UNCG Athletics UNCG Athletics

    The violations weren’t deemed severe, but the sheer number of them led to the NCAA adding a second year of probation.