NCAA Bracket 2013: Updated Look Following Elite 8 Action
With the NCAA tournament winding to a close, it is safe to say that few people expected the Final Four to look like this.
After a season full of ridiculous upsets where top-five teams routinely lost to unranked opponents, we should have expected some craziness in March Madness. It turns out that this is exactly what we got.
Fortunately, the Final Four should still include some incredibly talented teams worthy of a national championship. Here is an updated look at the bracket based on Saturday's games.
West Region: Wichita State
When the brackets were released, most agreed that the West Region was the weakest at the top. That was proven early, when the No. 1, No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5 seeds all went down before the Sweet 16.
At that point, No. 2 Ohio State was expected to be the favorite to escape the region and reach the Final Four. However, Wichita State had different plans.
The Shockers showed that they are not a Cinderella, but instead a really good team that is capable of winning tough games in different ways. While they showed a great shooting performance from outside (14-of-28) against Gonzaga to win, the rest of the games featured physical play and tough inside scoring.
In the Elite Eight, Wichita State was impressive on defense, holding the Buckeyes to only 31.1 percent shooting.
This squad was not expected to go very far, but throughout the tournament it proved that it belongs. The Shockers have the ability to continue this incredible run and possibly win a national championship.
East Region: Syracuse
There were questions about the offense all season, but it is the defense that has carried Syracuse to a Final Four.
Jim Boeheim's trademark 2-3 zone has baffled opponents for years, forcing them into turnovers and tough shots. However, the length of this year's team might make it the best ever.
With 6'4" Brandon Triche and 6'6" Michael Carter-Williams at the top of the zone, opponents cannot get off any easy shots. This has been a theme throughout the tournament, as the defense is only allowing 45.8 points per game.
While every remaining opponent has talented guards that can penetrate into the zone, the unit has looked almost unbeatable in recent games.
If C.J. Fair and James Southerland can get their shots to fall on the other side of the court, Syracuse could win it all.
South Region: Michigan vs. Florida
Considering these two teams spent plenty of time in the Top 10 of polls this season, it is not surprising that they reached the Elite Eight despite their seeds.
Michigan squeaked by Kansas thanks to a last-second three-point shot by Trey Burke to send the game into overtime. The point guard then continued to impress in overtime, leading his team to the upset victory.
Meanwhile, Florida only had to beat a No. 15 seed in the previous round, although Florida Gulf Coast did not play a low seed in the first two games against Georgetown and San Diego State. Still, the Gators played efficiently throughout the contest and silenced "Dunk City."
In this game, it will come down to which side can control the pace. Both teams feature talented scorers all over the court, but Florida enjoys slowing the game down. Michigan prefers to run more and keep the game higher-scoring.
Whichever team wins will have a tough time beating Syracuse in the next round, but either one has the backcourt talent to overcome the zone and keep advancing in the tournament.
Midwest Region: Duke vs. Louisville
While there is no more Christian Laettner, coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino are once again battling in the Elite Eight.
Duke won when these teams played in November, but Louisville was without Gorgui Dieng, who is one of the best interior defenders in the nation. This will have a huge impact on Mason Plumlee's ability to score around the basket.
Still, this game will come down to the Blue Devils' ability to hold onto the ball. Louisville wins with its ability play a tough press defense, which forces turnovers and prevents opponents from even getting into the frontcourt.
In addition, these turnovers often lead to easy baskets on the other end. Still, Duke is a veteran team that is disciplined enough to make smart plays and avoid giving the ball away.
The important thing to note, however, is just how good these teams really are. The winner will be the highest seed remaining in the tournament, and should instantly become the favorite to win it all.
It is simply a shame that both teams cannot head to Atlanta.
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