NCAA Bracket 2013: Recapping Journey for Every Final Four Team

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIApril 1, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - MARCH 31:  Mitch McGary #4 of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates their 79 to 59 win over the Florida Gators by cutting down a piece of the net during the South Regional Round Final of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on March 31, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The field for the Final Four of the 2013 NCAA tournament has been set with Louisville, Wichita State, Michigan and Syracuse set to square off for the title.

All four have had earned big wins over various teams to make it to Atlanta, though some have had bigger wins and talking points than others. 

Let's take a look at the journey each team has had to the Final Four in 2013.


Louisville—No. 1 seed, Midwest Region

After beating Syracuse to claim the Big East title, Louisville have continued their impressive winning streak throughout the 2013 NCAA tournament.

The Cardinals opened up with a comfortable 31-point win over North Carolina AT&T in the second round—a game where the No. 1 seed forced 25 turnovers from their opponents, with star guard Russ Smith reeling in eight steals and 23 points in the huge win.

They then followed that up with an impressive win over Colorado State in the third round, where, again, the Cardinals forced 19 turnovers from their opponents.

Smith also had a huge game in that one, with his 27 points being the catalyst for Louisville's offense, which shot an impressive 0.564 percent on the night.

The region's top seed then played a surprise opponent in the No. 12 Oregon Ducks, who pushed the Cardinals all the way. However, they could not stop a massive 31-point night from Smith, whose big performance gave the top seed an eight-point win.

Louisville played their biggest test of the tournament in the Elite Eight when they took on No. 2 seed Duke. The game was relatively close throughout the first half, but after guard Kevin Ware went down with a gruesome injury, the Cardinals found added incentive to triumph in this one.

A 50-point second half saw the Cardinals cruise past Duke with a 22-point win and set themselves up for a strong showing in the Final Four this year.


Wichita State—No. 9 seed, West Region

The biggest shock (pun intended) in the Final Four this year is Wichita State, who've beaten several big teams to win through a very open West Region.

The Shockers opened their campaign with a comfortable 18-point win over the No. 8 seed Pittsburgh—holding their opponents to just 35.2 percent shooting on the night. However, it would be their offense that would come through for them most in their third-round victory.

Playing the region's top seed—Gonzaga—Wichita State drained five straight three-pointers late in the game to walk away with a thrilling six-point win.

Moreover, they were the first team to knock out a No. 1 seed in the 2013 tournament and appeared primed to continue that run with a favorable Sweet 16 matchup.

Courtesy of other upsets, Wichita State played No. 13 seed La Salle in the Elite Eight and made quick work of their opponents with a 14-point win.

The Shockers would complete their incredible run in the West Region by taking out the No. 2 seed Ohio State in their Elite Eight game—clinching a narrow four-point win over the Buckeyes after they had almost allowed an incredible lead to drop late in the game.

And in doing so, the No. 9 seed Shockers became the first No. 9 seed to reach the Final Four since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. 

An incredible run.


Michigan—No. 4 seed, South Region

Michigan started their March Madness campaign with relative ease—comfortably winning their first two games against South Dakota State and Virginia Commonwealth (15 and 25 points, respectively).

Yet the Wolverines would face a very tough test in the Sweet 16 when they took on the No. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks—and appeared to be going down as a result. That was, however, until Trey Burke stepped up for Michigan and nailed a game-tying three-pointer in the final moments of regulation to force overtime, where they would eventually triumph over Kansas.

After being down by 14 with less than seven minutes on the clock and down five with 25 seconds remaining, it truly was an incredible win by the Wolverines.

And it was seemingly one that gave them masses of self-belief, as they cruised through their Elite Eight game against the No. 3 seed Florida Gators by 20 points—racing to a 13-0 lead early against the Gators that they would essentially preserve for the rest of the game.

The win gave the Wolverines their first Final Four berth since 1993 and further belief that they could well go all the way in Atlanta this year.


Syracuse—No. 4 seed, East Region

Defense has been the key for Syracuse in March Madness this year, with the Orange's ability to shut down their opponents' offenses the biggest reason behind their Final Four berth.

It started in the second round, where the Orange held Montana to just 34 points as they stormed their way to a huge 47-point victory on the night. 

Their defense would carry them past the No. 12 seed California in the third round also, despite a woeful offensive performance. A 12-minute drought without a field goal, six baskets in the second half and 15 missed free throws somehow gave the Orange a remarkable round of 32 victory—all because of the pressure that they brought on defense throughout.

Syracuse's 2-3 zone would allow them to knock off the No. 1 seed Indiana in the Sweet 16—holding the Hoosiers to just 50 points whilst scoring 61 of their own. And their defense would send them through to the Final Four once more after they knocked off the No. 3 seed Marquette 55-39 in their Elite Eight matchup—a truly incredible defensive performance.

Turnovers, blocks, steals, bad shots—you name it and the Orange have brought it on defense, and it's the reason why they're in the Final Four in 2013.


Who do you think will win in the Final Four this year?

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