The Big East is undergoing changes, but in its last season before many of the stalwart teams leave, two members are in the Final Four.
Louisville and Syracuse have dominated opponents on their way to the Final Four, where they will meet Wichita State and Michigan, respectively.
Despite the fact that both are formidable opponents, the two Big East teams should have an easy time advancing to face each other in the title game.
Let's break down why these two teams will advance and face one another in the title game on April 8.
Syracuse is in the Final Four on the strength of its stingy defense. The Orange are holding opponents to a paltry 45.8 points per game in the tournament. Additionally, opposing teams are shooting just 29 percent from the field.
That defense is led by Jim Boeheim's infamous 2-3 zone, the goal of which is to keep opponents on the perimeter. With the length and athleticism of 6'6" guard Michael Carter-Williams, it's extremely tough for teams to get off a clean shot.
Carter-Williams is a star and will be a high pick in the 2013 NBA draft. He's averaging 12 points, seven assists and five rebounds per game, making him an all-around threat. However, he is also a pest on defense.
He's joined by C.J. Fair, who flies under the radar despite averaging 14.3 points and seven rebounds per game and displays explosive athleticism:
Combined with James Southerland, who shoots 40 percent from three-point land, these three core players help set the foundation of a well-rounded Syracuse team.
Michigan's Trey Burke has undoubtedly been outstanding all season, but he will struggle to find open looks and take quality shots against the zone. Mitch McGary likely will not see as many touches, as the zone makes it difficult to get the ball inside to players on the low block.
In addition, Michigan coach John Beilein is 0-9 all-time against the Orange.
All is set up for the Orange to win this difficult matchup and head to the title game.
Louisville is dominating opponents in the tournament thus far, averaging 80.75 points per game and only giving up 59 points per contest throughout March Madness.
They are led by guard Russ Smith, who has scored at least 23 points in each of his tournament games. Gorgui Dieng scored 14 points against Duke and is averaging 7.5 rebounds in the tournament.
As a unit, the Cardinals are well-rounded and play quickly and aggressively in all phases. They also have the coaching support their success—coach Rick Pitino is third among average coaches with a .742 winning percentage in the tournament.
The Cardinals are a turnover machine on defense. They force 18.6 per game, which is second best in the country. Wichita State does not have elite point guards who handle the ball with aplomb, so they will struggle against Louisville's aggressive press defense, the likes of which the Shockers have never seen.
Louisville is the most well-rounded team in the country, and it is no surprise that they have lived up to the billing as the No. 1 overall seed.
In addition, the Cardinals will also be playing for their injured teammate, Kevin Ware, whose gruesome leg injury will serve as extra motivation moving forward.
Wichita State has been a nice story, but the Shockers simply are not talented enough to hang with Louisville. The Cardinals will overwhelm their opponents and cruise into the title game.
Though it won't be easy, it looks like Syracuse and Louisville are on a collision course to meet in the title game. They played each other in the Big East tournament, with Louisville winning 78-61.
Syracuse is playing better than it was in the Big East tournament, so it's possible that this potential title tilt is a bit closer than the two teams' previous matchup.
Still, Louisville is just so completely dominant that it's hard to imagine it losing. Plus, Syracuse's best weapon—the zone defense—could struggle against an up-tempo, fast-break offense like the one the Cardinals effectively run. Syracuse won't be able to use the zone as well as it normally does, and it will lose a track meet against Louisville.
Look for Louisville to win it all. The Cardinals are by far the best team in the country. Even if the game is not close, it will be a fitting send off to the old Big East.
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