NCAA Bracket 2013: Predicting How Final Four Will Play Out
With only three games remaining in March Madness, I finally have a good enough feel for this zany tournament to know how it is going to play out.
The semifinals will take place on Saturday with the championship coming on Monday as all the action goes down in Atlanta, Ga..
There is no need to wait until then to see how it will all play out, though. I have the answers right here.
Wichita State vs. Louisville
Wichita State is the real deal. They haven't danced their way to the Final Four with flukes or luck. This is a sound team playing quality basketball, and they have pieces to give the Cardinals fits.
For starters, the Shockers are going to extend possessions by gobbling up offensive rebounds. Wichita State ranks 14th in the nation in offensive rebound percentage while the Cardinals are just 177th in defensive rebound percentage.
The Shockers will also be able to slow down Louisville's offense. They have done a great job in this tournament of limiting dribble penetration, and Louisville bases much of its attack on dribble penetration.
In their remarkable tourney run, the Shockers have held opponents to 34.3 percent shooting from the field and 25.3 percent from beyond the arc.
Now, all of that said, I still see Louisville winning the game. I just can't get past its pressure defense.
Louisville is second in the nation in opponent turnovers per possession. Meanwhile, the Shockers are a less-than-stellar 109th in turnovers per possession.
So, I like Louisville to win, but much closer than many anticipate.
Prediction: Louisville 72, Wichita State 67
Michigan vs. Syracuse
What a great point guard matchup we have on tap for this one with Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams and Michigan's Trey Burke.
With Burke leading the way, the Wolverines offensive attack has been dominant. In this tournament, Michigan averages 78.8 points while shooting 49 percent from the field and 40 percent on threes.
That offense now goes up against a Syracuse team that is running the 2-3 zone to perfection.
The Orange advanced to the Final Four by holding Marquette to a season-low 39 points, and in the Sweet 16, the Orange held the Indiana Hoosiers to a season-low 50 points.
Now, it is easy to sit there and say that the sharpshooting Wolverines will simply shoot over the zone and capture the win. Although, the same could have been said of the excellent shooting Hoosiers. Syracuse simply is letting teams get up good looks.
Still, this is just half of the matchup, and Syracuse is also going to have a hard time scoring.
The Orange are not an efficient offense. They are 123rd in the nation in field-goal percentage at 44 percent. They have helped atone for this poor shooting with good offensive rebounding as they are 12th in the nation in offensive rebound percentage.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines have not been a good rebounding team. However, Mitch McGary has certainly helped improve his team on the glass. The freshman has come up big in this tournament and he is averaging 11.5 boards in the run, which is over five boards more per game than what he is turning in for the season.
This all adds up to a close game, but Michigan will pull out a thriller in the end.
Prediction: Michigan 60, Syracuse 57
Michigan vs. Louisville
This is going to be a fantastic matchup. We have Pomeroy rankings' No. 1 most efficient defense with Louisville and the No. 1 most efficient offense with Michigan.
Also, as we discussed above, the Cardinals thrive on forcing opponents into turnovers. It is the backbone of their team.
However, Michigan thrives on taking care of the rock. The Wolverines are first in the nation in both turnovers per game and turnovers per possession.
This game also features another great backcourt matchup with Michigan's Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. going against Louisville's Peyton Siva and Russ Smith.
All of this sets up for what should be a fantastic championship game. In the end, I see Louisville using their tough defense to force Michigan into some key misses down the stretch to allow the Cardinals to pull this one out.
Prediction: Louisville 75, Michigan 71
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