Top 10 Players from Louisville, Wichita State, Syracuse, Michigan in Final Four
The No. 1-seeded Louisville Cardinals and No. 9 Wichita State Shockers tip things off from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta at 6:05 p.m. ET Saturday.
Following the first Final Four game is a battle of two No. 4's, the Syracuse Orange and Michigan Wolverines, scheduled to start at 8:49 p.m.
Here is a ranking of the top 10 players left in the NCAA tournament.
10. Carl Hall (Wichita State Shockers)
Carl Hall is the least advertised of the Final Four big men, but the senior from Cochran, Ga., may be the most hardworking post player left in the tourney.
Hall took a roundabout route to college basketball prominence, starting at Middle Georgia and moving on to Northwest Florida State College, where he became a JUCO All-American, before arriving at WSU.
The 6'8" power forward anchors a Wichita State defense which has held opponents to 34 percent shooting from the field.
The tournament doesn't get any easier for the Shockers big man in Atlanta against Gorgui Dieng after going up against Steven Adams and Kelly Olynyk, among others, in WSU's second-ever Final Four run.
9. Peyton Siva (Louisville Cardinals)
The 6'0'' senior nabbed 2.2 steals per game in addition to his 5.8 assists. Though he shoots just 41.3 percent from the floor and isn't much of a three-point threat, Siva breaks down defenses with his ability to get to the rim.
He stepped up his percentages against Duke, knocking down 6-of-10 from the floor in an impressive 85-63 win.
8. Glenn Robinson III (Michigan Wolverines)
In the NCAA tournament, Glenn Robinson III has averaged over 13 points and six rebounds per game while shooting a sizzling 62 percent from the field.
The 6’6” freshman wing uses his length and leaping ability to shut down opponents and clean the glass, and he is Michigan’s No. 2 rebounder.
Syracuse is known for its length, even from its guards, so Robinson will likely need to have an impact on the boards for Michigan to keep up. Scoring won't be the top priority for GR3.
7. C.J. Fair (Syracuse Orange)
C.J. Fair is Syracuse’s leading scorer (14.3 PPG) and rebounder (7.0 RPG), no small claim on a team as talented as the 2012-13 Orange.
Last year as a sophomore, Fair shot 24 threes and only hit six (25 percent). This season, his outside shooting, especially from beyond the arc (47.5 percent), has helped open up the middle for others to operate.
Fair is a long, athletic wing who is a perfect fit for Jim Boeheim’s vaunted 2-3 zone, and he will be counted on to contain Michigan’s high-octane perimeter scorers.
6. Cleanthony Early (Wichita State Shockers)
Cleanthony Early, a multi-talented frontcourt player, can knock down shots in the paint or from distance. Against Gonzaga in the round of 32, he hit 4-of-7 from beyond the arc.
The 6’8” power forward can pound the glass and play tight defense, and he was the Shockers' regular-season leading scorer (13.7 PPG) and No. 2 rebounder (5.3 RPG).
He will be counted on more heavily to make sure that WSU limits Louisville’s second shots and its points in the paint.
5. Tim Hardaway Jr. (Michigan Wolverines)
Tim Hardaway Jr. is a sleek scorer who has no trouble getting into the lane or creating his own shot.
Averaging 14.6 points (No. 2 for Michigan) and 4.6 rebounds for the regular season, Hardaway Jr. is a problem for smaller perimeter defenders.
The 6’6” junior will need to have a game like he had against San Diego State in the first tournament game (21 points with five three-pointers) for Michigan to come out on top.
4. Gorgui Dieng (Louisville Cardinals)
Louisville's Gorgui Dieng is the most imposing of the Final Four frontcourt players left. He is able to clean the glass at both ends of the court and dunk anything that comes off the rim.
The 6'11'' center has been on an insane offensive tear during March Madness, shooting 20-of-24 (83.3 percent) from the field.
Because of his elite-level shot-blocking abilities, the rest of Louisville’s defenders can apply more pressure and take more chances knowing that the big fella is patrolling the paint.
3. Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse Orange)
Michael Carter-Williams is having a fantastic tournament, demonstrating once again how versatile of a floor leader he really is.
The do-it-all 6'6'' point guard has averaged 13 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 3.3 steals in the NCAA tournament, all while playing a key role in Syracuse's zone.
His showdown with Michigan’s Trey Burke in Saturday's national semifinal will be must-see TV.
2. Russ Smith (Louisville Cardinals)
Russ Smith has been on a tear the last four games, averaging 26 points per.
ESPN's Eamonn Brennan added, "he's lethal on the fast break -- he scored 1.171 points per trip on transition plays this season, which were his most frequent (28.5 percent) play type -- and can be perfectly well-defended and still make the kind of crazy Euro-step bank shots that had Duke defenders hanging their heads Sunday evening."
If Louisville head coach Rick Pitino continues to get this kind of production from his off-guard, cutting down the nets in Atlanta appears likely.
1. Trey Burke (Michigan Wolverines)
Burke, known as a scoring point guard, led the Big Ten in assists (6.8 APG) while being the No. 2 scorer in the league with 18.8 PPG.
Additionally, no one in the college game is more effective off the pick-and-roll.
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