At this stage of the NCAA tournament, every team is riding the emotional high that only a serious Final Four tournament run can produce. Having already won four straight games against quality opponents, the combined teams of Louisville Cardinals, Syracuse Orangemen, Michigan Wolverines, and Wichita State Shockers must truly believe that they have a golden chance at tournament glory. But belief isn’t everything, and only one team can actually win it all. So which of these teams has that all-empowering “it” factor this year? My money is on the Orange of Syracuse.
All the experts are picking Louisville, the only remaining number 1 seed, and some of the more risk-loving fellows have chosen Michigan and their high-flying offense led by sensational point guard, Trey Burke. But for me there is something special about Syracuse and their zone defense that held Marquette to just 39 points in the Elite 8 round. Coach Jim Boeheim finally has this Syracuse team playing defense to its full potential and the results in the NCAA tournament have been impressive.
Opposing teams simply cannot find a way through the zone marking, and the guards have been stout in defending the 3-point shots, limiting opponents’ offensive production in the tournament.
Guard Michael Carter-Williams has been sensational in the NCAA tournament, and scored 24 points against the Indian Hoosiers, another number 1 seed. Also, forward C.J. Fair has been a solid performer and has averaged over 14 points per game. One of Syracuse’s strong points is that they have four players averaging over 10 points per game, making them a threatening side all over the court. With their stingy defense, they will stay close in the Final Four games, and this will give them every opportunity to win.
Standing in their way is mighty Michigan though. The Wolverines have a very dangerous offense, and it will be curious to see how they match up against the zone defense of Syracuse. Although they are just a 4 seed in this tournament, Michigan was undefeated and ranked number 1 in the nation back in January. The team probably has the best player in Trey Burke, who distributes well and scores lots of points. The defensive play of Syracuse’s guards in defending him will be an intriguing matchup in their semifinal fixture.
Chances are that the final match will feature Louisville, as they are too talented to be upended by Wichita State. Louisville is reeling from the heartbreaking injury to Kevin Ware, whose leg was snapped in the Elite 8 game against Duke. However, Ware was mostly a role player, and so although Louisville is rallying around this injury they still have most of their talent on the court, which makes them a quite dangerous side indeed.
Guards Peyton Siva and Russ Smith have been excellent recently and are talented at generating turnovers by the opposition while finding points as well. Although Louisville is not that great of a 3-point shooting team, their defensive work is the best in the country, and they will give the other team headaches all night long.
For Syracuse, which also prides itself on strong defense, this matchup could be tense and low scoring in the final. Although fans would probably like to see more points scored, the match will likely come down to the wire and maybe even a last second shot. I simply feel that Syracuse will become the heroes and will win another NCAA tournament, their first since Carmelo Anthony helped the Orange cut the nets in 2003.
Whoever comes out on top, the 2013 Final Four will surely be exciting. No matter which team you root for, AAA Sports Memorabilia has a large collegiate memorabilia collection. Once the top team is determined, we will be adding Final Four championship collectibles for that team. All of our collectibles are officially licensed and all of our autographed memorabilia is guaranteed for life to be authentic.