Two more games are all that's left between bitter disappointment and complete jubilation.
The field for the Final Four is set with games set to tip off this Saturday. Three of the teams don't come as a huge shock. The fourth has pulled off two of the NCAA tournament's biggest upsets en route to an improbable Final Four berth.
It's appropriate that Wichita State has gotten this far. The Shockers are representative of the craziness of this season as a whole and illustrate the ever-shrinking gap between college basketball's elite and the mid-majors.
This Final Four has a little bit of everything. You've got plenty of top stars and teams whose performances can be remembered for years down the road. With the Shockers, you've also got the intriguing underdog you had never envisioned possibly winning the title.
Here is a quick preview of Saturday's action, with the Final Four schedule and under-the-radar stars to watch.
When: April 6 and 8
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Live Stream: March Madness Live
Final Four Schedule
|April 6||No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 9 Wichita State||6:09 p.m.|
|April 6||No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 4 Syracuse||8:49 p.m.|
|April 8||National Championship||9:23 p.m.|
Unheralded Players to Watch
Nik Stauskas, Michigan Wolverines
There isn't a better shooter on the Wolverines than Nik Stauskas. That's pretty high praise for a team that also features Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Prior to Sunday, Stauskas had yet to find his stroke. He had gone 9-of-23 from the field, including a paltry 2-of-12 from three-point range. Then against the Florida Gators in the Elite Eight, Stauskas went off. He was a perfect 6-of-6 from long range en route to scoring 22 points, leading the Wolverines in that category.
Stauskas has been an extremely strong shooter the entire season. He's averaging 47.1 percent from the field, including 44.9 percent from three-point range.
In order to break down Syracuse's zone defense, the Wolverines will need good shooting. That's the best way to exploit the gaps in the zone. Should Stauskas get going, Michigan will get the advantage and make the Orange have to score points.
That could be a problem for a team that only averages 70.8 points a game.
Fred Van Vleet, Wichita State
Wichita State's done extremely well to make the Final Four. Despite all the upsets they've pulled off, the Shockers have yet to play a team as good as the Louisville Cardinals. Rick Pitino's team has been the best in the tournament.
The Shockers will need a total team performance to get over the gap in talent between the two teams. Wichita State simply can't match up with the likes of Peyton Siva, Gorgui Dieng and Russ Smith.
Bench play will be the key. The majority of that production will come from Fred Van Vleet. The freshman guard has scored in double digits in the Shockers' upsets of Ohio State and Gonzaga. Against the Bulldogs, Van Vleet had 13 points and added 12 against the Buckeyes.
While not a dead-eye shooter, Van Vleet can knock down a couple of key three-pointers if needed.
Cleanthony Early, Carl Hall and Malcolm Armstead have gotten the Shockers this far. If they want to advance any further, though, it's up to Van Vleet scoring some vital points off the bench.
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