It has been one incredible ride to the Final Four in this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament. Louisville is the only number one seed left standing and plays Cinderella story Wichita State in one matchup. The other matchup features Michigan, making their first trip to the Final Four since 1994, taking on the Syracuse Orange Men.
Wichita State is the one Cinderella team left in this tournament. Their journey has included wins over number one seeded Gonzaga and number two seed Ohio State. Wichita State forward Cleanthony Early lead Wichita State with 12 points and 7 rebounds as Wichita upset Ohio State in the Elite Eight to make it to their first Final Four since 1965. Wichita State is just the fifth 9th or lower seed to make it to the Final Four. The previous four all lost in the Final Four. VCU was an 11 seed in 2011, George Mason in 2006, LSU in 1986, and Penn was the only other 9 seed to make it back in the first year of the seeding in in 1979. Wichita will have their hands full with Louisville in the Final Four. Rick Pitino's bunch may be the hottest team in the tournament and our riding a wave of emotion after the devastating injury to Kevin Ware.
Louisville is the only number one seed left in the tournament. The have made it to the Final Four for the second year in a row and are looking to walk away with the glass trophy and cut down the nets in Atlanta. Rick Pitino has seen his highs and lows throughout the years as Louisville's head coach. He would love to add a championship with Louisville to his already stellar resume. Sunday's matchup with Duke in the Elite Eight was a tight game in the first half. That is until one of the scariest moments in college basketball occurred to Louisville's Kevin Ware. Ware jumped in the air for a loose ball and shattered his leg on impact when he hit the ground. The game was stopped for nine minutes as a stunned silent crowd watched Ware get taken out on a stretcher. In the midst of the chaos witch had both Duke and Louisville coaches and players openly weaping; Ware told coach Pitino to go out and win the game. Ware's home town in the home of the 2013 Final Four in Atlanta, Louisville went out and played inspired basketball in honor of their fallen team mate. Russ Smith, Peyton Siva, and Gogui Dieng lead Louisville to a 13-2 run after play was resumed which Coach K and company could not come back from. Despite 17 points and 12 rebounds for Duke's Michael Plumee, the Duke Blue Devils fell to Louisville 85-63.
Number four seeded Syracuse totally shut down Marquette to reach yet another Final Four. This is Coach Jim Boeheim's fourth trip to the Final Four, and their first since 2003 when freshman Carmelo Anthony led Syracuse to a national championship win. Syracuse and their smothering 2-3 zone is led by 6-6 guard Michael Carter-Williams. The athletic guard filled out the stat sheet with 12 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals and one blocked shot in Syracuse's 55-39 victory over Marquette in the Elite Eight. Marquette's 39 points was the lowest in a regional championship game since the shot clock was introduced in the tournament in 1986. Syracuse moves on to face the Michigan Wolverines in the Final Four. If Coach Boeheim and his infamous 2-3 zone can survive the Wolverines, Syracuse could be in for an epic championship showdown against Big East rival Louisville. This would be a fitting end to the Big East as we know it if both championship competitors were representing the conference next Monday.
The Michigan Wolverines have made it to their first Final Four since Bill Clinton was in his first term in 1993 with thier 79-59 victory over the Florida Gators. Freshman guard Nik Stauskas had 22 points in the win for Michigan. Trey Burke was responsible for 40.5 percent (32 of 79) of Michigan's points Sunday, scoring 15 and having his seven assists lead to another 17. In Michigan's four tournament games, Burke has been responsible for 134 points, most in the tournament field. Tim Hardway Jr. spoke up about Michigans first appearance in the Final Four since the "Fab Five" made it in 1993. "It means the world -- 20 years has passed and we haven't been on that stage yet," said the Wolverine's junior guard. Michigan and their perimeter attack will face a tough task with Syracuse and their vaunted 2-3 zone in the final four. The Wolverines must continue to play beyond their basketball years despite having three freshman in their starting lineup. Trey Burke and Michael Carter-Williams should be an excellent matchup to look forward to for Saturday's big game.
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