Final Four 2013: Which National Semifinalist Has the Brightest Future?

Tyler DonohueNational Recruiting AnalystApril 5, 2013

Final Four 2013: Which National Semifinalist Has the Brightest Future?

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    The Final Four is set to commence Saturday in Atlanta as a quartet of programs prepare to leave a lasting impact on the legacy of March Madness. Michigan, Louisville, Syracuse and Wichita State will vie for the national crown in the upcoming days, dueling for college basketball supremacy. 

    Although each team currently has its sights set on the 2013 championship, there is plenty more to come on the horizon for these programs. All four squads are destined to say goodbye to key contributors at season's end but have been busy reeling in quality recruits. 

    Legacies are on the line in Atlanta, but universities don't build basketball programs for one year of success. So which of the four national semifinalists is in the best shape to reach this round on an annual basis?

    We take a look into the crystal ball and discover which team is in store for success in the near future. Here's how they each stack up.

4. Wichita State

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    State of the program

    The Shockers are enjoying a remarkable run through the tournament. Wichita State is in the Final Four for the first time since 1965. Coach Gregg Marshall made a name for himself at Winthrop with seven NCAA tournament visits in nine seasons. 

    This is Wichita State's second consecutive trip to the tourney. Immense exposure this spring should enable the program to make tremendous strides in multiple facets moving forward. 

    Who they lose

    The Shockers should enjoy the ride while it lasts this April because the team is on the verge of losing multiple members of its corps.

    Key contributors Malcolm Armstead, Demetric Williams, Ehimen Orukpe and Carl Hall account for much of Wichita State's production. All of them are seniors, so expect an uphill battle next season for this upstart squad.

    Incoming recruits

    Point guard D.J. Bowles brings athleticism to the point guard position. The Florida product is lightning fast and has a high ceiling as a shooter. 

    Oklahoma native Shaquille Morris is an intriguing power forward with plenty of offensive upside.

3. Michigan

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    State of the program

    The Wolverines are back in the Final Four for the first time since the "Fab Five" took college basketball by storm. Michigan coach John Beilein, now in his sixth season in Ann Arbor since departing West Virginia, has increased the team's win total in each of the past three seasons.

    Michigan finished the 2009-'10 season with 15 victories. That total jumped to 21 in 2011 and 24 in 2012. The Wolverines are currently sitting at 30 wins this season.


    Who they lose

    Michigan has five seniors on its roster but none of them average more than two points per game. Junior guard Tim Hardaway may be tempted to throw his name into the NBA draft fray.

    Whether the Wolverines' season ends Saturday against Syracuse or lasts all the way to a national championship trophy presentation, questions and speculation will immediately swirl around the future of Trey Burke. The sophomore guard earned the John Wooden Award as the nation's most outstanding player and it's hard to see him passing on an opportunity to test his skills (and inflate his bank account) at the professional level.


    Incoming recruits

    Power forward Mark Donnal highlights another strong class for Beilein. Zakarie Irvin is a dynamic 6'6" small forward who can attack the rim from all angles. Assuming each player has a strong first training camp, they should be immediate mainstays in Michigan's rotation for years to come.

    Detroit sensation Derrick Walton may have an early opportunity to replace Burke at the point guard position.

2. Syracuse

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    State of the program

    Syracuse rebounded from a rough conclusion to the regular season (5-7 in final 12 games) to reach the Big East tournament championship game. Orange coach Jim Boeheim has served on the squad's sideline since 1969 and is undoubtedly nearing the conclusion of a Hall of Fame career. 

    Syracuse has reached at least the Sweet 16 in four of the past five years. This is the team's first trip to the Final Four since Carmelo Anthony and company captured Boeheim's lone national title in 2003.

    Who they lose

    Do-it-all point guard Michael Carter-Williams has served as the team's catalyst throughout his sophomore season. The writing appears to be on the wall that he is destined to depart for the NBA draft when the postseason wraps up. 

    The impending loss of seniors Brandon Triche and James Southerland puts a dent into the Orange's deep rotation. Junior forward C.J. Fair may not be ready to make the leap to the next level, but don't be surprised if the allure of potential first-round money sways him to leave Syracuse.


    Incoming recruits

    Tyler Ennis is in line to become Syracuse's next star point guard, assuming Carter-Williams catapults to the pros. The 6'2" sensation is ranked as the 24th-best player in the country by

    Fellow New Jersey product Tyler Roberson is a top-notch power forward. He bolsters the Orange frontcourt along with fellow forwards Chinonso Obokoh and B.J. Johnson.

1. Louisville

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    State of the program

    Rick Pitino has established a national power at Louisville and the program's progress shows no signs of slowing. The Cardinals have reached three Final Fours since 2005. 

    Pitino's team has emerged as one of the last four squads standing in each of the past two seasons. Louisville has 88 wins and counting since the start of 2010-'11 campaign.


    Who they lose

    Two-time Big East tournament Most Valuable Player Peyton Siva is a senior. The Cardinals have a pair of junior stars (Russ Smith and Gorgui Dieng) who could be swayed to leave early for the NBA after strong tournament runs. 


    Incoming recruits

    Pitino continues to pull in the country's premier high school hoops talent. 

    Anton Gill and Chris Jones should make an immediate impact in the Cardinals' backcourt. Terry Rozier, who teams up with Jones at Hargrave Military Academy in Va., also enters the mix as a viable candidate to replace Siva.

    Akoy Agau, 6'9" power forward, provides the Cardinals with valuable length inside. This group ranks among the nation's elite classes.