NCAA Bracket 2013: Power Ranking Potential National Championship Matchups
At this point in the NCAA tournament, there are only awesome potential national championship matchups and more awesome potential national championship matchups.
With just four teams remaining, my gaudy math skills tell me that there are four different championship-game scenarios. You could make a legitimate case for each one being more intriguing, more enticing and more instant-classicky than the next, but some rate slightly higher on my list.
Let's take a look.
4. Wichita State vs. Syracuse
Considering both are underdogs (Wichita State +10.5 and Syracuse +2), according to Bovada.lv, in their respective match-ups, this game would instantly draw rave reviews from fans. Syracuse isn't much of an underdog at a No. 4 seed, but they don't have the fanfare Michigan does right now due to the emergence of Trey Burke as a legitimate superstar.
However, Wichita State would be an amazing borderline-Cinderella-esque story that would capture America's heart immediately. This game would be seen almost as the 'Little Engine That Could' going up against a dominant college basketball powerhouse. Although this might be a fun matchup on paper as the ultimate bracket-buster, it is also the least-likely to go down.
3. Wichita State vs. Michigan
Going beyond the obvious of, hey, there's a freaking No. 9 seed in the national championship, this one presents a potentially fascinating contrast of styles.
On one side of the court you have Wichita State. The Shockers are strong and physical, and while they have been unconscious from outside in their last three wins (27-of-60, 45.0 percent), they tend to win games on the defensive side of the ball.
Essentially, you really only need to know head coach Gregg Marshall's new motto to understand their makeup: Play Angry.
Of course, if Michigan had a motto, it would probably be "Play Beautifully" (except for Mitch McGary, who plays like he belongs on Wichita State).
Led by Trey Burke, the Wolverines are nearly unstoppable when the pace quickens and they get good ball movement. Whether Burke is cutting his way through the lane, or he's hitting step-back jumpers, or Nik Stauskas is drilling corner threes, or Glenn Robinson is attacking the rim like he's mad at it, it's always fun to watch when Michigan's efficient offense is clicking.
Throw in the fact that it would be two coaches each vying for their first championship, which we've only seen twice in the past decade, and this one has plenty of beguile.
2. Louisville vs. Syracuse
If it weren't for a few certain guards, this one would easily be atop the list.
The headline simply writes itself:
Rick Pitino vs. Jim Boeheim: Hall-of-Fame Coaches Square Off For Fourth Time This Season In Fitting Send Off For Big East Conference; Russ Smith and Michael Carter-Williams Are Also Really Good and Make For Juicy Individual Matchup
OK, so that's more of a Leslie Knope headline, but you get the idea. There's lots going on in this potential re-re-rematch.
Even though it's a battle that we've seen three times already this season, both squads are playing arguably better than they have all year, and I don't think many would mind seeing a classic Big East national championship to cap off the final year of existence for the real Big East.
Unless you hate defense, this is an incredibly captivating potential meeting.
1. Louisville vs. Michigan
I get giddy just thinking about this one.
Louisville is playing on another planet right now. The Cardinals beat a very physical, aggressive, experienced Colorado State team by 26 points. They beat a red-hot Oregon squad by eight (although it wasn't really that close). They got revenge on the same Duke team that beat them in November, and they did it by 22.
They are playing this well mostly because of their guard play. Their suffocating pressure defense and Russ Smith's efficient offensive attack have left the opposition with literally zero chance.
What matchup do you most want to see in the national championship?
If anyone is going to beat Louisville, it's going to be on the back of a talented point guard capable of handling pressure.
I'm pretty sure Trey Burke, the best point guard in America, classifies as a solid candidate.
Burke and the Wolverines absolutely crushed VCU's ferocious press earlier in the tournament, but Louisville's press is like HAVOC on steroids.
When it comes down to it, this turns into the best offense in the nation with the lowest turnover rate and most trustworthy point guard against the most exhilarating defense in the nation with unrelenting, suffocating pressure.
It would be undoubtedly enthralling.
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