If the old adage that defense wins championships proves to be true, there are a few teams that have a huge advantage over the rest of the field in 2013 NCAA tournament.
Teams that rely heavily on their offense are prone to a cold shooting night. In March Madness, there are no second chances.
But the squads that defend well are the ones that perform consistently game in and game out. A few of these teams are a cut above the competition on the defensive end of the floor.
Here are teams that will ride their defense to the Final Four.
No. 1 Louisville
The Cardinals are the gold standard in college basketball when it comes to defense.
It starts with fantastic guard play from Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, which allows Louisville to press when needed and constantly create turnovers.
In the half court, this team has Rick Pitino’s signature all over it. It plays extremely hard, never gets pulled out of position and rarely makes a mistake. This is why the team tops KenPom.com’s defensive efficiency rankings.
Louisville has earned the top overall seed in the tournament through its defense, and it will continue relying on its efforts on this end of the floor to carry it to Atlanta.
No. 1 Kansas
Louisville may have the best team defense in the nation, but Kansas center Jeff Withey is the best low-post defender in college basketball.
The 7’0” senior is averaging 3.8 blocks per game this season, and no player protects the rim as effectively as Withey.
He is the anchor of the Jayhawks defense, but the rest of the team also pulls its weight. Ben McLemore’s strength and athleticism allows him to be a quality defender in addition to an offensive star, and Bill Self’s coaching ensures that the Jayhawks are extremely disciplined.
Kansas has the fifth-best defense, according to the KenPom.com rankings, and this will be good enough to get the team to the Final Four.
No. 2 Ohio State
The Buckeyes used the last game before the tournament to prove exactly how good their defense is.
Wisconsin was red-hot entering the Big Ten tournament final after beating Indiana, but Ohio State played the Badgers game by slowing down the pace and playing lockdown defense.
Thad Matta’s team held the Badgers, who are one of the better three-point shooting teams in the nation, to just 16.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc. Wisconsin only managed to score 43 points in this game.
These two Big Ten foes could meet in the Elite Eight, but the story would not change if this were to happen. The Buckeyes defense, which places sixth in the KenPom.com defensive rankings, is too strong for the team to lose to any team in the West region.
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