As we approach the Final Four of the 2013 NCAA tournament, fans and analysts are rampantly attempting to predict what will transpire, seeing as the tournament has gone as no one had foreseen (ESPN Stats & Info reports that zero brackets remain perfect).
The question is simple—how will the Final Four actually transpire?
Entering the closing stages of the 2013 NCAA tournament, the two remaining games will pit the Louisville Cardinals against the Wichita State Shockers and the Syracuse Orange versus the Michigan Wolverines.
That leaves just a single No. 1 seed, Louisville, two No. 4 seeds, Michigan and Syracuse, and Wichita State, a No. 9 seed.
The improbable makeup of the Final Four has left us with a tough task, as the unthinkable has already transpired. Fortunately, there are factors to evaluate that will offer a definitive answer as to what should go down.
So how would it all transpire if things went according to plan?
No. 1 Louisville Cardinals vs. No. 9 Wichita State Shockers
The Louisville Cardinals come out of the Midwest Region as the overall No. 1 seed. They're an elite defensive squad with world-class guard play and a top-tier interior presence.
With the emergence of an elite scoring option, Louisville has it all.
The Wichita State Shockers, meanwhile, have emerged from the West Region as a No. 9 seed. Although they're not elite in any specific area, they have superb size and possess undeniably powerful momentum.
Wichita State reached its current level of success by defeating the likes of No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2 Ohio State.
When it comes to how this game will transpire, look for Louisville to continue controlling the pace of games. Gorgui Dieng will counter Wichita State's size, defending the rim with his power, anticipation and explosiveness.
Wichita State's high-quality guard play will be countered by Peyton Siva's full-court defensive pressure and Russ Smith's offensive prowess.
Smith is averaging 26.0 points per game during the NCAA tournament.
With Siva leading the full-court press, Louisville should be able to control the pace of an otherwise ugly game. The defensive pressure will be at a premium and the Shockers will struggle to put up points.
Wichita State's rebounding prowess will keep them in this one, but Smith will be too much down the stretch.
Louisville 59, Wichita State 53
No. 4 Michigan Wolverines vs. No. 4 Syracuse Orange
The Michigan Wolverines are a balanced offensive team that thrives in transition and have enough half-court prowess to piece together quality possessions. They're led by a Naismith and Wooden award finalist point guard, a crop of elite shooters and a dominant big man.
In other words, the Wolverines have all the tools necessary to break the Syracuse Orange's 2-3 zone.
Syracuse, meanwhile, is one of the most balanced teams in the nation. Their 2-3 zone has held opponents to an average of 45.8 points per game during the 2013 NCAA tournament, thus creating a plus-20.0 point differential.
Syracuse reached the Final Four by dominating the opposition, including an outing in which they held No. 1 Indiana to their lowest scoring total of the season.
Once the game tips off, the question on everyone's mind will be whether or not the Wolverines can penetrate the Syracuse defense. Thus far, no one in the NCAA tournament has been able to achieve such a feat.
The Wolverines are led by Trey Burke, who has earned the moniker of being the best point guard in the nation. Not only can he score at an elite level, but he facilitates as well as anyone in the nation.
Even opposition Michael Carter-Williams.
With Nik Stauskas and Tim Hardaway Jr. spreading the floor with their shooting, Burke will be able to work into the paint and kick it out to the perimeter. Glenn Robinson III will be able to drive baseline, thus providing another form of offense.
With Mitch McGary down low winning the effort plays, Michigan will achieve victory—some how, some way.
Michigan 63, Syracuse 58