Both Final Four matchups promise to be galvanizing, but it's difficult not to look forward to the big title game.
The national championship is simply on another level. There are hardcore fans unable to talk about anything else for the 24 hours leading up to the game. There are people who don't know anything about basketball yet watch intently. Floyd Mayweather Jr. is probably already laying down a $30 million bet.
The stage could not be any bigger or brighter.
What tends to make these title games even more intriguing—if that's possible—is the individual matchups. Let's take a look at the best potential ones.
Note: A link to a bracket can be found at the bottom of this page.
Peyton Siva/Russ Smith vs. Michael Carter-Williams/Brandon Triche
Siva and Smith are most effective when they are in attack mode. When the two lightning-fast guards are able to slice into the lane and score at the hoop, where they are both outstanding finishers, the Cardinals are nearly impossible to stop.
Their ability to do that stems from Louisville's full-court, ball-hawking pressure defense. Turnovers allow the dynamic backcourt to get in transition in open space, and at that point, it's like trying to catch the Golden Snitch in a downpour. Too quick, too electric, too much space—easy route to the hoop.
When the pace slows and Louisville must operate out of the half court, however, things change considerably—especially against Syracuse.
Not only is it incredibly difficult to penetrate a 2-3 zone, but Michael Carter-Williams (6'6", arms like an orangutan) and Brandon Triche (6'4") offer unique, annoying length at the top of the three-point line.
In three games against the Orange this season, Siva is shooting 4-of-26 (15.4 percent) and Smith is connecting on just 15-of-37 (40.1 percent).
Rick Pitino's squad has looked unstoppable this tournament, but when his backcourt isn't producing offensively, his team becomes far more human. This is by far the most difficult matchup for the scintillating dual ball-handlers.
Carl Hall vs. Mitch McGary
Those not interested in a bloodbath need not apply.
Carl Hall and Mitch McGary are two of the most physical players in America, let alone the Final Four.
Hall is just 6'8", but at 238 pounds, he absolutely controls the paint. He is a force on the glass (6.9 rebounds per game), defends the rim extremely well (1.8 blocks) and epitomizes the Shockers' new slogan of "play angry."
McGary is a monster. At 6'10", 250 pounds, he obviously has the body to bully pretty much anyone, but he combines that with good instincts and a junkyard-dog, never-quit mentality. In the tourney, he is averaging a gaudy 11.5 rebounds.
Big men don't always garner much attention, but these two physical warriors would make for a battle well worth the price of admission.
Russ Smith vs. Trey Burke
These are the two most exciting guards in college basketball right now, and it would only be fitting to watch them go back and forth at each other for the national title.
We touched on Smith a bit, but probably not as much as he deserves. In four wins, the enigmatic guard is averaging 26.8 points on a white-hot 54.8 percent shooting and 3.3 steals per contest. He has been far and away the best player in the tournament.
Burke isn't exactly lacking talent, either.
The best player in college basketball is quietly having a poor shooting tournament (34.9 percent from the field), but his ability to conduct Michigan's powerful offensive attack and his propensity to hit the big shot have been the stuff of legends.
If Louisville and Michigan both advance, let's just clear the court and watch these two play one-on-one for 40 minutes. I wouldn't be mad at that. Simply put, the electric playmaker is a winner.
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