Final Four 2013: Breaking Down Saturday's NCAA Tournament Action

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistApril 2, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 31:  (L-R) Chane Behanan #21, head coach Rick Pitino and Russ Smith #2 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrate in the final minute as they won 85-63 against the Duke Blue Devils during the Midwest Regional Final round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 31, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As the 2013 NCAA college basketball tournament continues to wind down, the madness of March has carried over into April, with the Final Four set to take place from Atlanta this Saturday, April 6.

Monday’s national championship game will be held in the same building (Georgia Dome), but the focus will be on the two matchups highlighted on Saturday. This foursome is one of the most unexpected Final Four combinations in years.

This pair of games is the prelude to the national championship, and each team will be fighting with everything they have to make it to the final game of the season.


No. 9 Wichita State vs. No. 1 Louisville: 6:09 p.m. ET on CBS

While the No. 9 Wichita State Shockers are riding a huge wave of momentum into the Final Four after winning the West Region, the No. 1 Louisville Cardinals are playing inspired basketball after the horrific injury to Kevin Ware (h/t ESPN) in the Midwest Region final.

That injury forced the Cardinals to rally around each other during the team’s 85-63 win over Duke, and while Ware will be missed in the lineup, Louisville has the depth, skill and now the purpose to make up for it.

The Shockers deserve immense credit for making this unexpected run in the tournament—stunning college basketball powerhouses like No. 2 Ohio State and No. 1 Gonzaga—but the team doesn’t have the speed and stamina to keep up with the fast-paced Cardinals.

Led by the elite play at both ends of the court from guards Russ Smith and Peyton Siva, as well as the low-post presence of center Gorgui Dieng, Louisville will be able to stifle the outside shooting and penetration offense that the Shockers live on.

Prediction: Louisville 77, Wichita State 72


No. 4 Syracuse vs. No. 4 Michigan: 8:49 p.m. ET on CBS

Neither of these teams were favored to do much damage in the NCAA tournament this year, but when the No. 4 Syracuse Orange square off against the No. 4 Michigan Wolverines, it will be a battle between two teams that know they've earned their way to the Final Four the hard way.

For Michigan, the road to this point consisted of beating both the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks and No. 3 Florida Gators to capture the South Region. Led by the elite scoring of sophomore Trey Burke and junior Tim Hardaway Jr., the Wolverines have created serious momentum heading into the Final Four.

As talented as Michigan has been, the Orange deserve as much credit for their run. Not only did the team knock off tough teams like Cal and Marquette to get to the Final Four, Syracuse knocked off the No. 1 seed in the East Region, the Indiana Hoosiers.

Despite normally having the advantage with the forward tandem of C.J. Fair and James Southerland, the Orange will face their toughest matchup against Michigan’s own powerful freshman forward in Mitch McGary.

That forward battle will decide the fate of this game.

Prediction: Michigan 72, Syracuse 70


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