This year's Final Four has shaped up to be fantastic.
On one side, you'll either see the best team in the 2013 NCAA tournament—Louisville—or a ninth-seeded Cinderella—Wichita State—make it to the national title game.
On the other, it's an offensively explosive team headed by a major star—Michigan—going up against a defensive strong side—Syracuse—that would provide a challenging foe for either of the teams it would face in the national championship.
It's fair to say the Big Dance has been a bit underwhelming this year. With the dearth of transcendent teams or stars, the play has been exciting but not of a high quality. No matter what, though, the Final Four will provide plenty of drama.
Here's a quick viewing guide for the event, with a key storyline for each game.
When: April 6 and 8
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Live Stream: March Madness Live
Final Four Schedule
|Apr. 6||No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 9 Wichita State||6:09 p.m.|
|Apr. 6||No. 4 Syracuse vs. No. 4 Michigan||8:49 p.m.|
|Apr. 8||National Championship||9:23 p.m.|
Key Storyline to Watch
Louisville vs. Wichita State: Do the Shockers Have Any Magic Left?
Perhaps the question is a bit unfair to Wichita State. It implies the Shockers have gotten to the Final Four largely relying on smoke and mirrors. They have beaten the No. 1 and 2 seeds in their region already.
Beating the top overall seed in the tournament might just be a bridge too far. The Shockers are going to need to find something extra to get past the Cardinals.
Louisville has been the best team in the tournament. Now with the inspiration of winning for Kevin Ware, there's no way the team will give Wichita State even the slightest bit of underestimation.
Man for man, you can't see the Shockers matching up with the Cardinals. They especially don't have an answer for the trio of Gorgui Dieng, Russ Smith and Peyton Siva if the three play like they did in the Elite Eight.
Wichita State has earned their trip to the Final Four by outplaying better teams. In order to get to the national championship, the Shockers are going to need to pull some rabbits out of the hat because they're not going to be able to outplay the Cardinals.
Syracuse vs. Michigan: Can the Wolverines Bust the Zone?
The zone defense of Syracuse has been blanketing opposing teams so far in the tournament. The Orange are holding teams to just 45.7 points.
There's no question Michigan has the shooting to be able to exploit the 2-3. It's just a matter of actually having that shooting show up.
Trey Burke is going to be the X-Factor. He's scored plenty of points, but he's not scoring in the efficient way he did during the regular season. Burke will not do any good if he puts up 20 points on 25 or 30 shots. He'll shoot Michigan out of the game doing that.
Burke could also help by driving to the basket and having the defense collapse around him. That would leave Nik Stauskas or Tim Hardaway Jr. open on the perimeter.
That's a tall order. All season, the Orange have been very strong defensively. They're holding teams to just 36.8 percent from the field, including 28.2 percent from three-point range.
Michael Carter-Williams has been one of the best perimeter defenders in the country. If he's at his best, Michigan will have a hard time finding open shots.
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