Final Four 2013 Bracket: Keys for Each Remaining Team to Reach Atlanta

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - MARCH 29:  Mike Rosario #3 of the Florida Gators celebrates their 62 to 50 win over the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles during the South Regional Semifinal round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on March 29, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

After starting with 68 teams in the NCAA tournament, the Final Four is almost set. However, none of the remaining teams have an easy path from this point forward.

On Saturday, Wichita State and Syracuse punched their tickets to Atlanta with great defensive performances. The Shockers held Ohio State to only 31.1 percent shooting, while the Orange held Marquette to only 39 points on the day.

Sunday's games should feature some more great defense as Louisville takes on Duke in the Midwest Region, while Michigan and Florida clash in the South. 

Every team remaining has a chance to not only reach the Final Four but contend for a national championship as well, but they must first follow these keys to victory. 



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Louisville: Defend the Perimeter

No matter which players are on the roster, Duke will always be a talented three-point shooting team. This season, the Blue Devils ranked fourth in the country with a team mark of 40.6 percent from behind the arc.

However, the amazing thing with this team is the fact that this shooting ability comes from a variety of locations. There are five players who play regularly and shoot better than 38 percent from deep.

You simply cannot leave anyone open on the floor. 

Louisville plays a great press defense, but it will be more important to defend in the half court. The Cardinals have to make sure they recover to every open player and get a hand up before a shot goes off.

Otherwise, Duke will make them pay.


Duke: Avoid Turnovers

Through three games in the NCAA tournament, Louisville has forced an incredible 56 turnovers. 

These giveaways not only prevent opponents from getting points on the offensive end, but many times they lead to easy transition baskets for the Cardinals.

Duke averaged the fewest turnovers per game in the ACC this season at 10.7 per game and only had 14 when these two played back in November. However, the Cardinals' defense has picked up since that point.

The Blue Devils will need to break the press without losing the ball. If they do, it will be a huge difference in this game. 


Florida: Use Size Advantage

There is no denying that Michigan's Mitch McGary is playing as well as he has all season to give the squad some balance inside. However, that still should not be enough to handle Florida.

In the frontcourt, the Gators feature 6'9" Patric Young, who is an incredible athlete and shot-blocker. Alongside him is 6'10" Erik Murphy, who is versatile enough to score inside or hit threes from the outside.

Between these two, they should be able to handle McGary and the 6'6" Glenn Robinson III, who is often the second-biggest player on the court for the Wolverines.

This means that Florida must also be aggressive on the offensive end, going inside and using the height advantage to get easy buckets. Going hard after offensive rebounds would also help in this one.

Murphy is often too passive in games, but that will not get it done against Michigan.


Michigan: Speed Up the Game

Florida is one of the most efficient teams in the country, but the squad is successful because it controls the pace of the game. Against Florida Gulf Coast, the Gators slowed things down and it basically halted "Dunk City."

Michigan cannot allow that to happen. Point guard Trey Burke must push the ball up the court on offense and try to beat the Gators before they get into good defensive position.

This strategy allowed the Wolverines to dominate VCU in a fast-paced game.

With shooters who can make shots in transition, like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Nik Stauskas, they can move quickly and make things happen early in the shot clock, putting the pressure on Florida to keep up on the scoreboard.

If this game is played in the 70s or 80s, Michigan should come out on top.


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