2013 NCAA Final Four Predictions

English: Rick Pitino during a game against Wes...

After several rounds of teams across the country competing and fighting, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has finally been reduced to the last four teams, appropriately called the Final Four. Like we did earlier in the tournament, The SLA Pioneer decided to give their take on who they though would progress from the Final Four and move on to the championship game.

Louisville vs. Wichita State

The first national semi-final game will be between the number 1 overall seed Louisville Cardinals  and the 9 seed Wichita State Shockers. While conventional wisdom might suggest that this will be an easy game for the Cards, the Shockers have proven that their seeding is little more than a number. Wichita has pulled off convincing victories against La Salle and Pittsburgh and has also pulled off (no pun intended) shocking victories against 2 seed Ohio State and 1 seed Gonzaga. Wichita’s toughness and rebounding make them a tough match-up for any team in the country.

Despite Wichita’s strengths, we’re still picking the Cardinals to win this game. The Card’s variety of zones, presses, shot blocking, and all-around commitment to defense is nearly unrivaled nationally. Rick Pitino has taught his team how to pressure  the ball and make running an offense incredibly difficult for all of their opponents.

The Cardinals also have two of the most dynamic guards in the country in Peyton Siva and Russ Smith. Having elite guards has historically been an important quality on championship teams.

Will the Shockers be play hard and give the Cardinals a tough game, I believe so. Will they be able to overcome Rick Pitino’s defense and win the game? I doubt it.

Michigan vs. Syracuse

The second semi-final game is harder to project. Both teams have elite guards, Michigan’s Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. and Syracuse’s Michael-Carter Williams and Brandon Triche, both teams have an dangerous 3-point specialist, Michigan’s Nick Stauskas and Syracuse’s James Southerland, and both teams have athletic x-factors at the wing/forward positions, Michigan’s Glenn Robinson III and Syracuse’s C.J. Fair. So where exactly do these two teams get an advantage over each other?

The Syracuse Orange get the edge defensively. Their vaunted 2-3 zone has gotten plenty of attention nationally as it has been the biggest factor in their Final Four run. It seems like no team since this tournament started has been able to figure out how to be it. What makes it so effective? For starters a tall and long backcourt (Williams 6’6 and Triche 6’4) makes it very difficult for opposing ball handlers. The shot blocking of and athleticism of C.J. Fair and Rakeem Christmas make things hard for opponents down low.

Fortunately for the Wolverines, they get the edge offensively. Not only is Michigan 27th in the country in points scored per game, they’re also 9th in field goal percentage (Syracuse is 80th and 128th by comparison). Michigan is also a better 3-point shooting team. They’ve made 50 more 3-point field goals (280 to 230) and shoot them at higher percentage (.385 to .337). That is an elite offense.

So who do we think will come out on top? We’re gonna go with Michigan. Michigan seems to be getting at least solid play from every player on their team. They’ve already played against other tough defensive teams like Kansas and Florida in this tournament. Aside Syracuse’s very impressive win against Indiana, they haven’t had to face an elite offense.

Perhaps more important than the match-up of offense versus defense is the match-up of super stars. Both Trey Burke and Michael-Carter Williams have proven that they’re two of the top point guards in the country. The outcome of the game could ultimately be decided by who plays better. Despite the excellent play of both of them this tournament, we’re gonna predict that Trey Burke and his all-around great year will out-play MCW and his roller coaster season.

In the end we have Louisville and Michigan advancing to the championship game. How do you think the Final Four will end up? Leave a comment below!

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About Brandon B.

I'm a proud Christian, above average sports fan and I'm currently in the process of growing up.

Posted on April 5, 2013, in Sports, Top Stories and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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