NCAA Tournament 2013: Making Final Four Predictions

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IMarch 29, 2013

LEXINGTON, KY - MARCH 21:  Head coach Rick Pitino of the Louisville Cardinals talks with Peyton Siva #3 against the North Carolina A&T Aggies during the second round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Rupp Arena on March 21, 2013 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Only one No. 1 seed is going to make the Final Four, and after a college basketball season as wild as this, we shouldn't have expected any different. 

While the Sweet 16 is only half over, I can't wait any longer to project past the Elite Eight. I didn't go so far out on a limb that I predicted FGCU to take their No. 15 seed to Atlanta, but I do see a few upsets headed our way. Check it out. 


Midwest: Louisville 

I always feel a little sheepish about predicting a favorite to win, but there is a reason the Cardinals entered this tournament as the No. 1 overall seed, and they've done nothing to put that status in jeopardy. 

In their two tourney games, the Cardinals have won by a combined 57 points. 

Louisville takes on Oregon in the Sweet 16. I like the Ducks, and I'd pick them in some other matchups, but not this one. Oregon is 255th in the nation in turnovers per play, and Louisville's pressure defense destroys teams that can't take care of the rock. 

This will set up a regional final against either Duke or Michigan State. The Spartans check in at 217th in the nation in turnovers per play. Duke is another story. The Blue Devils are seventh in this key stat. 

That would set up for an excellent matchup, and the Blue Devils could shoot their way to victory. Duke can bomb away with the best of them and finished fifth in the nation in three-point percentage. Also, the Blue Devils beat Louisville 76-71 earlier this season.

However, Duke has not been at its best in the tourney, and it won't get past the Spartans. Michigan State is going to own Duke on the boards and pull out with a narrow win. 


South: Florida

While FGCU has looked fantastic, it has not played an offense like the Gators. According to KenPom, the Gators have the fourth-most efficient offense in the nation. They also have a nice size advantage in the paint. 

While I'll be rooting for Cinderella to stave off midnight, Florida is going to advance with relative ease. 

That sets up for a matchup against the winner of the Kansas-Michigan battle. 

I like Michigan in that matchup. Ben McLemore has been ice cold for the Jayhawks, and the Wolverines have looked great with guard Trey Burke setting the tone. Michigan will advance. 

This will be a great game in the regional final, but the Gators have the backcourt defense to wear down the Wolverines and escape with the tight win. 

East: Wichita State

Wichita State is going to pull off the shocker (it's so easy I almost didn't do it) by running to the Final Four. 

Both the Buckeyes and the Shockers play solid defense and make opponents work to get good looks. The Shockers are 35th in opponent shooting percentage while the Buckeyes are 36th. 

What does that tell us? There are going to be a lot of misses in this game, and where there are misses, there are rebound opportunities. Wichita State is going to win this game on the boards. 

The Shockers are 10th in offensive rebounding percentage and ninth in defensive. Meanwhile, the Buckeyes are solid on the defensive boards at 28th in rebound percentage, but lackluster on the offensive end at 146th. 

West: Syracuse

The Orange's 2-3 zone looks better than ever. It throttled a great Indiana offense by holding it to a season-low 50 points. That zone took away what the Hoosiers do best, as Indiana wound up just 3-of-15 from distance—All-American Cody Zeller had just 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting. 

Next up is a feisty Marquette team. The Golden Eagles don't have the shooters to stretch out Syracuse's zone. 

Not a single player on the their roster shoots over 38 percent from beyond the arc. 

Syracuse is going to wear the Golden Eagles down, force them into turnovers and create easy buckets to propel a comfortable win.