The Biggest X-Factors in the 2013 Final Four
The Final Four is just days away!
These games will primarily be decided by effort, skill and execution.
But there will also be hard-to-identify influences that could sway who wins it all.
Let's take a quick look at the biggest X-factors in the 2013 Final Four.
Ron Baker's Passion and Hustle
Wichita State fits the bill of the classic "little guy" at the Final Four.
The No. 9-seeded Shockers beat Pitt, Gonzaga, La Salle and Ohio State on their way to Atlanta.
One of the undervalued players on this Cinderella team is redshirt freshman Ron Baker.
His on-court passion is evident, as he dives for loose balls and goes full-tilt from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
Baker jumped onto the national radar in WSU's upset of the No. 1-seeded Zags, when he went 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
If Louisville sleeps on the 6'3" wing, he could become an unlikely hero in the early national semifinal game.
The Emergence of Mitch McGary
Through most of this season, Mitch McGary was a role player—and a secondary role player at that.
But the Wolverines big man has caught fire during March Madness and has become a vital part of why Michigan is at the Final Four with national title hopes on the line.
McGary is averaging 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game in his first NCAA tournament.
As much as the Wolverines needed him to shift into beast mode during their Sweet 16 and Elite Eight victories, they will need him to do just as much work in Atlanta.
The Twillight Years of Jim Boeheim's Career
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has fervently denied rumors of possibly retiring after this Final Four.
Even if he plans to return next year and beyond, the Orange could believe that this is their coach’s best chance to get another title before calling it quits.
Big-time college hoops players do not need extra motivation at this stage of the tournament.
The Syracuse players may push themselves a little harder, however, to get things done in Atlanta for their coach, who is No. 3 in the all-time wins list and in his 38th season at the SU helm.
Kevin Ware's Presence
After sustaining his gruesome injury against Duke, Kevin Ware is doing everything he can to continue to contribute to the Cards’ national title effort.
According to Gary Graves of the Associated Press:
Ware was cleared Wednesday by doctors to accompany the Cardinals on their hour-long flight to Atlanta. The sophomore plans to be a full participant in preparations for Saturday's game against Wichita State.
Even though he would have been a significant asset coming off the bench for the Cards, Ware's presence alone will be a motivating factor for Louisville's attempt at winning the school's third NCAA championship.
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