After five rounds of blood, sweat, tears and broken bones, the NCAA tournament is finally nearing an end. The final four teams remaining are Michigan, Syracuse, Wichita State and Louisville. No. 9 Wichita State must play No. 1 Louisville, while No. 4 Michigan and No 4. Syracuse will also fight for a spot in the finals. Upsetting No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2 Ohio State, Wichita State has come a long way in this year’s tournament. However, I believe they will be no match for Louisville. After losing Kevin Ware from a heartbreaking injury against Duke, Louisville is more motivated than ever to win it all for their teammate. While attempting to block a three-point shot, Ware landed awkwardly and broke his leg. As he fell to the ground, viewers caught a glimpse of the bone protruding from his leg. Ware, a native of Atlanta by way of the Bronx, said to his teammates, “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be OK. You guys go win this thing.” With Louisville’s explosive offense, tenacious defense and new found extra incentive to win, it seems likely that they will win the championship in Ware’s hometown. While Michigan and Syracuse are more evenly matched, I believe that Syracuse will make it to the finals. Both teams were triumphant over No. 1 seeds, but Syracuse’s outstanding 2-3 zone defense is a force to be reckoned with. Syracuse’s starting point guard, Michael Carter-Williams, averages in double digits and is anticipated to be the ninth pick in this year’s NBA draft. If Syracuse and Louisville were to face in the finals it would be the first Big East finals match-up since 1985, which would be appropriate for the final season of the Big East conference. While Syracuse has shown their talent throughout the season and the NCAA tournament, I think Louisville will prove to be an unstoppable team and take home the title. After a tournament full of upsets, it will be exciting to find out who the winners will be on April 8.
By Jared Accettura
So what if it’s technically April? So what if you tore up your bracket after Florida Gulf Coast (who?) won two games? So what if Kevin Ware’s injury has traumatized you for life? It’s the Final Four. That means we’re two games away from crowning this year’s National Champion and if you don’t like that, you’re not a real American. Yes, I said it. Now let’s take a look at the four remaining teams. This year’s Cinderella, ninth-seeded Wichita State, has played the role of giant-killer to perfection, knocking off both No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2 Ohio State on their Final Four run. Wichita State is a glowing example that great teams exist throughout college basketball and can play with anyone in the country. Unfortunately, they are running into a buzz saw in the Louisville Cardinals. This year’s Louisville team boasts one of the most tenacious and pesky defensive units of Rick Pitino’s coaching career (just ask him) and will not let up on that end of the court for 40 minutes. On top of that, Russ Smith and Peyton Siva appear to be on a mission, making Louisville the best bet to win it all. The other side of the bracket boasts a huge, Big East-Big Ten matchup between Syracuse and Michigan. These two 4-seeds are peaking at the right time and have advanced for one reason – toughness. Michigan’s Trey Burke, perhaps the premier guard in the country, has proven that he is not ready to lose. It will be up to him to solve Syracuse’s vaunted zone defense, which has smothered its opposition to this point. Syracuse will look to use their size to battle inside and turn the game into a low-scoring affair. Their defense will want to limit Michigan’s ability to run in transition with their athletic wings, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glen Robinson III. If stud point guard Michael Carter-Williams can control the tempo, then Syracuse has a chance. However, the deadly outside shooting of Michigan’s Nik Stauskas may prove to be the difference in the game. I anticipate a tight Michigan win with some fireworks at the end.
By Kevin Mahoney
I concede the fact that Louisville is playing the best basketball in the tournament and is the favorite to win it all. Yet, I have to stick with my gut and pick Michigan to win March Madness. I think Michigan has serious talent starting with their point guard and Naismith Player of the Year candidate Trey Burke. He has been the best point guard in the tournament (sorry, Peyton Siva), and has the potential to completely dominate the game, even when he’s not scoring. In Michigan’s Elite Eight matchup against the Florida Gators, Burke only scored 15 points on 5-16 shooting, but added eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals in a game where he completely controlled the tempo. Obviously, Michigan’s success relies a lot on the settler play of Burke, but this team has shown that they can win with their depth. Both Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III, two potential first round draft picks in this year’s upcoming NBA draft, have been steady all year for the Wolverines. They pose significant match-up problems with their length, athleticism and outside shooting. However, Michigan’s recent success has come with the emergence of big man Mitch McGary and unsung heroes Nik Stauskas and Spike Albrecht, providing depth off the bench. This team has shown that they are more than just a one man team, let alone a big three. This Michigan team is the complete package with the skill set that could help bring a title back to Ann Arbor. Next up is Syracuse. Michigan will need to rely on their good ball movement and stellar outside shooting. I think Michigan will be able to grind one out against ‘Cuse and move on to the finals to face Louisville in a highly anticipated finals matchup.