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2013 NCAA Tournament — Final Four Preview

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NCAA

Four teams remain alive in the 2013 NCAA tournament field. The 2013 Final Four pits the odds-on favorite against a Cinderella and a beast from the Big East against the Big 10′s last remaining entrant.

Here’s a preview of Saturday’s games:

Wichita State Louisville
Jeff Gross, Andy Lyons / Getty Images

Wichita State Shockers vs. Louisville Cardinals

Georgia Dome, Atlanta; 6:05 p.m. (ET) on CBS
West Regional champion Wichita State (30-8) faces Midwest Regional champ Louisville (33-5) in the first 2013 Final Four contest. The top-seeded Cardinals are heavy favorites to win the national title, while the Shockers hope to see their Cinderella story through to the title. Here’s what each team must do to claim a victory:

How Wichita State can win:

Beat The Press: Wichita State guards Malcolm Armstead and Ron Baker will face defensive harassment from Louisville’s Peyton Siva and Russ Smith. The Cardinals are more comfortable when they are creating turnovers and forcing the tempo. Baker and Armstead can’t wilt under that pressure.

Clean the Glass: The Shockers ranked seventh nationally in rebounding margin. While it’s not a glamorous stat, it is a key reason why Wichita State has streaked through the tournament. Forwards Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall must limit Louisville’s second-chances and fast break opportunities.

Balance The Attack: The front court of Hall and Early produces the most points for the Shockers out of the half-court offense. Armstead, Baker and Fred Van Vleet must contribute in what’s likely to be a high-scoring game.

How Louisville can win:

Make The Threes: When Louisville guards Russ Smith and Peyton Siva find their 3-point stroke, the Cardinals are difficult to beat. Louisville must dictate the tempo of the game through Siva and Smith. The Cardinals can’t bang with Wichita State inside.

Box Out: Center Gorgui Dieng and forward Chane Behanan are the Cardinals’ chief rebounders. If they can keep Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall from dominating the glass, Louisville should win.

Hold The Lead: Louisville has been impressive in the NCAA tournament, but Wichita State has been just as dominant over more highly ranked opponents. The Shockers have had double-digit leads in each of their games, but they haven’t had to play from behind late. That could be a factor if the Cardinals get on a run.

Syracuse Michigan
Rob Carr, Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

Syracuse Orange vs. Michigan Wolverines

Georgia Dome, Atlanta; 8:49 p.m. (ET) on CBS
East Regional champ Syracuse (30-9) faces South Regional champ Michigan (30-7) in the second 2013 Final Four contest. As the last team from the Big 10 still alive, Michigan hopes to bring the title back to the conference, while Syracuse wants another trophy in its final campaign as a member of the Big East. Here’s what each team must do to win:

How Syracuse can win:

Extend The Zone: The Orange’s 2-3 zone defense has given up fewer than 46 points per game on average thus far in the tournament. Syracuse must collapse effectively on Michigan guards Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. and get back out to contest long-range shots from Nik Stauskas.

Share The Ball: Michael Carter-Williams, C.J. Fair, Brandon Triche and James Southerland all average double-figures for the Orange. If everyone gets involved, Syracuse can be difficult to defend both outside and inside the paint, but the Orange have shot just 40 percent in their last three games.

Neutralize Mitch McGary: While Burke has received the accolade, freshman forward Mitch McGary has been the breakout star of the NCAA tournament, averaging 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Baye Keita and Rakeem Christmas will be key players for Syracuse in holding McGary off the offensive and defensive boards.

How Michigan can win:

Shoot The Three: Nik Stauskas and Trey Burke can expose the Orange’s 2-3 zone by shooting over the top of it. Both Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. can slash into the zone and kick the ball back outside for shots.

Control The Tempo: The Wolverines would prefer to force Syracuse to run, much like Louisville did to the Orange in the second half of the Big East title game. This means shooting the ball effectively, looking for fast break opportunities and employing some token pressure.

Shut Down Michael Carter-Williams: Burke is likely to draw the task of containing Orange guard Michael Carter-Williams. This match-up between two future NBA lottery picks may be the key to the game. If Burke can keep Carter-Williams from filling up the stat sheet with points, assists and rebounds, Michigan could secure the victory.

 

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