Final Four Preview
And then there were four. The Final Four kicks off tomorrow night in Atlanta with Louisville taking on Wichita State and Michigan against Syracuse.
Louisville vs. Wichita State, 5:09 p.m. CDT on CBS
It’s the No. 1 overall seed, Louisville Cardinals squaring off against the mid-major Wichita State Shockers.
The Shockers “shocked” the NCAA tournament’s West Region knocking off No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2 Ohio State.
Louisville is hot as they have won 14 straight and won their first four NCAA tournament games by an average of 21.8 points.
Louisville is a very efficient team. The Cardinals average 22.6 points off turnovers, and have forced a NCAA tournament-high 71 turnovers.
Wichita State will have to be careful with the ball, and especially around Louisville’s guards. Russ Smith and Peyton Siva have gotten 38, and 32 deflections on defense in the NCAA tournament so far.
Smith is Louisville’s leading scorer with 18.1 points per game, and so far in the NCAA tournament, he has scored 41 transition points, the most in the field.
For Wichita State, turnovers have been a problem, as they average 12.7 a game, and Louisville is one of the best in forcing turnovers. The Shockers meanwhile, are great on defense, too. Wichita State has held each of its opponents in the NCAA tournament to 36 percent shooting. On the flip side, Louisville has hit 52.7 percent of its shots against their four opponents in the NCAA tournament.
Michigan vs. Syracuse 7:49 p.m. CDT on CBS
It’s the first time Michigan is in the Final Four since 1993 when the Wolverines were led by the Fab Five. This year’s Wolverines are the Fresh Five.
For Syracuse, the Orange are back in the Final Four thanks to their 2-3 zone that has allowed opponents to 28 percent shooting from the field, and 14 percent from beyond the arc in the NCAA tournament. Michigan has shot 49 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc.
It’s going to be a battle of one of the best offenses vs. one of the best defenses.
Syracuse is led by Micahel Carter-Williams, and James Southerland. When Southerland gets it going from beyond the arc, the Orange are tough to beat. Southerland shot 40.3 percent from three-point range during the season, but is struggling in the tournament, making just 7-of-19. As for Carter-Williams, he’s been their best player. He is 6’6″ and perfect at the top of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. The Orange’s point guard was a complete player in their last game against Marquette, putting up 12 points, eight rebonds, six assists, five steals and one turnover.
For Michigan, the Wolverines are led by Trey Burke, who was just named Player of the Year. Burke has been phenomenal, scoring 18, 23, and 15 points in their last three NCAA tournament games.
Michigan’s best player in the NCAA tournament may be the emergence of Mitch McGary. The 6’10″ freshman has scored in double-digits in all four games. McGary has scored 12, 21, 25, and 11 in their four NCAA tournament games, as well as 9, 14, 14, and 9 rebounds.
As exciting as the NCAA tournament has been, there’s no doubt that the Final Four will be just as fun to watch.