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Louisville, Michigan Advance to Final Four


Louisville and Michigan better get their bags packed and get ready for some Southern spring heat because they are headed to Atlanta.

With stellar second half performances, the Cardinals and Wolverines were able to advance past the Elite Eight round and into the Final Four, a position they’ve thought about, dreamed about, and played for all season long.

Michigan jumped out to a 13-0 lead against Florida in the South Region final and never looked back, cruising to a 79-59 victory. Like they have all tournament, the Wolverines caught fire from the outside, as Trey Burke and more notably, Nik Stauskas, made it rain from three-point land. Stauskas led all scorers with 22 points, hitting six triples while going 7-for-8 on the game.

Nik Stauskas put on a show from deep

Nik Stauskas put on a show from deep

South winner Michigan now advances to play the East Region champion Syracuse in what will surely be one of the more interesting match-ups we’ve seen in the entire tournament. Michigan has absolutely destroyed offenses with its run-and-gun style and sharp shooting, while the Orange have disoriented defenses with their impenetrable zone defense.

Throughout the tourney, Syracuse has done a great job at forcing opponents to take tough outside jump shots, but the Wolverines had been excellent at knocking those shots down. Can Michigan stay hot and advance to the national final? We’ll have to wait and see, but so far they’ve looked pretty unstoppable. It’s too early to look at spreads, but if I had to pick a team now, I’d go with the Wolverines.

After defeating Duke 85-63, Louisville became the only No. 1 seed to advance to the field of four in Atlanta, as it played an inspired second half for its injured comrade Kevin Ware, who tragically suffered a compound fracture to his leg in the first half while attempting to defend a perimeter shot. Ware was carried out on a stretcher and delivered to the local area hospital as a shocked and emotional Cardinals team tried to regroup. However, as Ware left the floor he told his team to win it for him and that’s just what they did in the second half.

“I don’t think we could have gathered ourselves — I know I couldn’t have — if Kevin didn’t say over and over again, ‘Just go win the game,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said, according to ESPN.com. “I don’t think we could have gone in the locker room with a loss after seeing that. We had to gather ourselves. We couldn’t lose this game for him.

The Cardinals went on to outscore Duke 50-31 in the last 20 minutes, as guard Russ Smith led the way for his squad again, scoring 23 points, which gives him a total of 104 for the tournament – which is the fourth most ever at this point in the tournament.

Louisville’s win sets up a date with the West Region winner, the Wichita State Shockers, who are only the fifth nine-seed or higher to get this far. On paper, it certainly looks like the Cardinals have a distinct edge, but as we’ve seen so far, you simply can’t overlook the Shockers. Teams that have done that have gotten buried underneath their fast-paced offense and stout defensive pressure. Still, we should lean towards the overall No. 1 seed as the favorite, but the game will probably be closer than many expect.

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