Final Four 2013: Predicting Midwest and South Representatives in Atlanta

Tim KeeneyContributor IMarch 31, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 29:  (L-R) Russ Smith #2 and Kevin Ware #5 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrate after they won 77-69 against the Oregon Ducks during the Midwest Region Semifinal round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 29, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Half of the Final Four is set, but the two best Elite Eight matchups still remain.

On one side of the bracket, we've got Rick Pitino vs. Mike Krzyzewski. A coaching rematch of "The Shot." Louisville vs. Duke. A rematch of November's nail-biting thriller, won by the Blue Devils.

Yes, please.

On the other side, we've got the best point guard in America in Trey Burke going up against one of the most physical, balanced defenses in the nation.

Yes, please. Again. 

Saturday's Elite Eight action may have been low scoring, but it was compelling. Sunday's action will be even better.

Let's take a look at who to expect to round out the Final Four. 


Midwest: Louisville

Back in November, Duke outlasted Louisville, 76-71, and fortunately for us, rematches are nothing like sequels: They tend to be even better than the original.  

While the return of Gorgui Dieng certainly gives the Cardinals an aspect to their game they didn't have in the first meeting, they also have Russ Smith.

The electric guard was present for that one, but the man who scored 17 points on an inefficient 19 shots in that one is playing like an entirely different person, averaging 28 points per game on a russdiculous 56.3 percent shooting in Louisville's three tournament wins. 

This is nothing against Duke. The Blue Devils have only lost one game with Ryan Kelly in the lineup, their backcourt of Quinn Cook and Seth Curry is playing at an elite level and Mason Plumlee has the size and athleticism to limit Dieng's impact in the middle. 

When it comes down to it, this should be the national championship.

But when you combine Louisville's suffocating pressure defense with an efficient Smith, a veteran Peyton Siva and role players such as Luke Hancock, Montrezl Harrell and Kevin Ware who are playing arguably their best basketball of the season, the Cardinals are unbeatable. 


South: Michigan

The Gators are an extremely talented, balanced bunch and if I was picking with my head, I would probably pick them.

There are just so few weaknesses for this team.

Scottie Wilbekin is one of the best perimeter defenders in America. Kenny Boynton is importantly limiting his shot selection in the tournament. Mike Rosario is spitting hot fire from the outside. Erik Murphy is a matchup nightmare at the four. Patric Young has the strength to slow down Mitch McGary on the inside. They have X-factors in Will Yeguete, Michael Frazier and Casey Prather.

Overall, it's not surprising that Ken Pomeroy has the Gators at No. 1 in his tempo-free rankings. 

But I'm going with my heart.

Trey Burke is playing at an unfathomably high level right now.

He struggled against Nate Wolters in the round of 64, but he came back with 18 points and seven assists against VCU's ferocious pressure and then he posted 23 points and 10 assists in a comeback win over Kansas.

Oh yeah, and he single-handedly led that comeback. 

And did this:


Burke is a talented winner, and even though I fully believe the Gators are the better all-around team on paper, with an advantage on defense and in experience, I can't muster up the courage to pick against the most dominant playmaker in college basketball. 


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