NCAA Bracket 2013: Toughest Matchups for Each Team in Final Four

Aashish SharmaCorrespondent IApril 5, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 29:  Russ Smith #2 of the Louisville Cardinals reacts after they won 77-69 against the Oregon Ducks during the Midwest Region Semifinal round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 29, 2013 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Final Four kicks off tomorrow night. The Georgia Dome in Atlanta will be packed with the Louisville Cardinals playing the Wichita State Shockers at 6:05 p.m.

Act two will feature the Syracuse Orange taking on the Michigan Wolverines at 8:49 p.m.

With all the excitement and anticipation leading up to tomorrow’s events, let’s take a look at some of the toughest matchups for each team in the Final Four.

Louisville's toughest matchup—Michigan’s strong D:

Obviously, the biggest story surrounding the Louisville Cardinals has been the loss of sophomore forward Kevin Ware, who suffered a compound fracture in his right leg—one of the most gruesome injuries ever televised.

Despite his loss, the Cardinals were able to play inspired basketball, knocking off the Duke Blue Devils in the Elite Eight earlier this week.

However, Louisville’s high-powered offense may get neutralized against Michigan’s gritty man-to-man defense. According to Jordan Schultz of the Huffington Post, Michigan has held opponents to just 34 percent shooting from the field during the tournament.

If the Cardinals are to overcome this, they must limit the turnovers while capitalizing on takeaways.

Also expect a heavy dose of pick-and-rolls to create mismatches and aggressive play in the paint.

Wichita State’s toughest matchup—Russ Smith:

Wichita State is not known for its offensive prowess. Once again, according to Jordan Schultz of the Huffington Post, the Shockers shot under 40 percent from two-point range and lack a legitimate offensive weapon (no player averages more than 13 points).

Their offensive struggles will likely be put on display when they face Russ Smith.

According to Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, Smith is the team’s "quickest and best perimeter defender.” 

Michigan’s toughest matchup—Syracuse Zone Defense:

Jim Boeheim’s Orange have been phenomenal defensively during the tournament, and that can be attributed to their use of the 2-3 zone.

Penetrating the lane against Syracuse will be a tough task for the Michigan Wolverines. Sophomore point guard Trey Burke has struggled in the tournament, shooting just 32 percent from the field.

His troubles will likely continue if he doesn’t settle into a rhythm early; with the ‘Cuse implementing a blanket defense down low, penetrating the lane just doesn’t seem to be an option.

Syracuse’s toughest matchup—Glenn Robinson III:            

While not a star in any regard, freshman forward Glenn Robinson III represents an x-factor for the Michigan Wolverines.

He has shown that he can be a solid perimeter shooter who has shown the ability to get hot in stretches.

The following is an excerpt from his scouting report, courtesy of

[Robinson] is now an excellent three-point shooter, and is one of the best athletes on the wing in the class. His combination of athleticism, shot making, and strength mean his potential is big time.

If he goes off, the Orange may be forced to abandon the 2-3 zone and revert to a more traditional man-to-man defense. If that happens, the lanes will open up for attackers such as sophomore point guard Trey Burke.