2013 NCAA Tournament: Final Four Are Here

By Phil Clark
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

This week has been far from the NCAA‘s best. Between scandals involving the Rutgers Scarlet Knights‘ basketball team, the Auburn Tigers‘ football team from 2010 that won the national championship and the Pac 12 conference’s basketball referees, it’s been a week from hell. However, now there’s something the NCAA can rejoice about: the arrival of the final weekend of college basketball known as the final four. That means that on Saturday and Monday night, the entire sports world will be watching what takes place in the Georgia Dome.

The groups that survived this years run through the tournament include some familiar faces, a team that’s close to a Cinderella story, and a team that has made a return to power.

The Wichita St. Shockers are that near-Cinderella story who are a nine seed. The Louisville Cardinals and Syracuse Orangemen are the familiar faces, especially the Cardinals in their second straight final four. The Michigan Wolverines, making their first final four in 20 years, are the team that appears to have returned to a spot of power in college basketball that they had owned for many, many years before falling off at the turn of the century.

It’s really a shame for the Shockers to have drawn the Cardinals as their semi-final opponent because many people, including myself, would like to see them play for the championship. Considering the overall craziness and unpredictability of this college basketball season, why not?

Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to happen. The Cardinals will have the advantage of being the best team (by far) that the Shockers have faced all season as well as having a far superior defense to any team the Shockers have played all season. Now, they will also have the mental boost of playing for a downed player in the form of Kevin Ware. It’s all going to be too much for the Shockers in my opinion.

The Wolverines finally provide the Orangemen with an opponent that has the offensive tools to not only get inside of the 2-3 zone, but also score from outside with three-point shots. However, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke had poor shooting games last weekend against the Florida Gators, and that worries this Wolverines’ supporter. If the player of the year (Burke) can’t come through on the biggest stage he’s seen so far in his basketball career, it’s going to put all of the pressure on Mitch McGary and Nik Stauskas, the two men who have collectively been the Wolverines’ big guns for basically of this tournament.

It would please me on many levels if there was an all-Big East final this year. I’ve been a Big East fan since my early days of watching college basketball because the style of play always pleased me more than the style of any other conference. However, I would be just as happy to see the Shockers and Wolverines duel for the championship.

As far as a prediction goes, I’m going to say it will be Michigan/Louisville on Monday for the title. I’m just really hoping to see three great games encompass the last two days of college basketball until November.

Phil Clark is a writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook. Or check out his blog.

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