Russ Smith celebrates Louisville's Final Four berth.
Two intriguing showdowns are set for the men's Final Four on Saturday in Atlanta. No. 1 Louisville will face the No. 9 Shockers from Wichita State, while the battle of No. 4 seeds will take place between Syracuse and Michigan.
The matchups are interesting and are sure to be entertaining, but the outcomes should come as no surprise because of the recent play of a quartet of players.
These four players have elevated their games in the NCAA tournament and helped their teams take one more step toward winning a championship. It's their play that will carry their respected teams to the title game.
Russ Smith: Louisville
Smith is Louisville's leading scorer this season, averaging 18.9 points per game. But he has raised his play to another level since the Cardinals entered the tournament: he has scored no less than 23 points in each of Louisville's four tournament games.
Not only is he scoring points, but he is doing it at an efficient rate. He is shooting 42 percent from the floor this season.
Smith's offensive aggressiveness has led the Cardinals all season, and it will not wary in the National Semifinal round against Wichita State.
Mitch McGary: Michigan
McGary is only averaging 7.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in his freshman season at Michigan, but he has stepped up for his team in the postseason.
McGary has scored double-digit points in every tournament game thus far, recording two double-doubles. His 6'10", 250-pound frame has proven to be an asset for him, making it easy for him to bull his way to the rim at will.
If he can continue to play with the relentless drive he has found in the NCAA tournament, the Wolverines will be difficult to beat.
Gorgui Dieng: Louisville
Dieng has been using his size to his advantage this season, almost averaging a double-double. That hasn't changed in March Madness.
In the Cardinals' last game against Duke, Dieng scored 14 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and blocked four shots.
He will be an immense matchup problem for the Shockers, and if Wichita State commits too much of its attention toward Dieng, he can feed the ball to his teammates on the outside.
Either way, he could prove to be the Shockers' worst nightmare on Saturday.
Nik Stauskas: Michigan
Stauskas is Michigan's version of the New York Knicks' sharpshooter Steve Novak. Stauskas will just sneak to the corner and drain three-point baskets with ease.
He was perfect from downtown against Florida in the Elite Eight, as he knocked down 6-of-6 from behind the arc and produced 22 points.
If Syracuse pays too much attention to Trey Burke, which they most definitely should, Stauskas will be waiting to strike from behind the three-point line.