The Big East sent the most representative of any conference to the NCAA Tournament, eight, but it got off to a rocky start as five of that group didn’t make it out of the Round of 64. Nonetheless, three eventually made it to the Elite Eight (Louisville, Marquette and Syracuse) and two (Louisville and Syracuse) have persevered to reach the Final Four next weekend.
Syracuse’s road to the Final Four has been built on defense. The Orange have surrendered a paltry .72 points per possession to their opponents. In comparison, they yielded .97 points per possession to the opposition in Big East play. Their length and activeness has caused serious problems for teams, especially teams outside the Big East. Indiana, the most efficient team in the country, was uncomfortable all game and never could find their rhythm. Syracuse’s defense has been exceptional, while their offense has done just enough thus far. They move on to face the Michigan Wolverines next Saturday, and they are going to need to pack that same defense for Atlanta as Michigan’s offense is clicking right now. The Syracuse Orange have not been to the Final Four since 2003, when they won the national championship.
Louisville’s path to Atlanta has been predicated on being the best team in the country, and playing like it. They’ve had too much speed, depth and talent for all of their opponents thus far in the NCAA Tournament. Duke hung tight with the Cardinals in the first half of their Elite Eight game, but once Louisville settled down from the gruesome Kevin Ware injury that occurred in the first half, they dominated the Blue Devils in all aspects of the game. Louisville now moves on to play the Wichita St. Shockers next Saturday evening, and after beating the number one and two seeds in their region, they have proven that they should not be taken lightly. The Louisville Cardinals were in the Final Four last year where they fell to the Kentucky Wildcats in the semi-finals.
Tip times for next Saturday’s Final Four pairings:
Wichita St. vs. Louisville at 6:09 PM
Syracuse vs. Michigan at 8:49 PM (or 40 minutes after the first game ends)