Who Let Wichita State In?

Who Let Wichita State In?

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The Final Four field is set and by this time next week a new national men’s basketball champion will be crowned.

Overall top seed Louisville overcame a devastating first-half injury by guard Kevin Ware — who broke his leg — to slam Duke 85 to 63. A pair of number four seeds, Michigan and Syracuse, are also in and then there is Wichita State, an improbable Final Four participant thanks to victories over Pitt, Gonzaga, La Salle and Ohio State.

Final Four

Louisville (33-5) and Wichita State (30-8) will square off in the first game Saturday night at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. That game will be followed by Michigan (30-7) versus Syracuse (30-9). The winners play next Monday night for the national championship.

Syracuse and Michigan made it look easy in their respective regional finals as the Orangemen dispatched Marquette 55 to 39, while Michigan stormed past Florida 79 to 59. Both teams overcame the naysayers to move on to Atlanta.

It has 10 years since Syracuse last made it this far and 20 years for Michigan. The Orangemen won its only national championship in 2003, while Michigan had to settle for runner-up in 1993. Michigan’s lone national championship was in 1989.

Ware’s Injury

Louisville’s win on Sunday was punctuated by Ware’s injury with 6:33 left in the first half. The sophomore guard was contesting Tyler Thornton’s 3-point shot when he came down hard on his right leg, breaking it in two parts.

Ware collapsed near the Cardinals’ bench and was in obvious distress, something that was not lost on the stunned Lucas Oil Stadium crowd and CBS viewers. Despite his extremely painful injury — a bone was protruding out from his leg — Ware implored his team to win the game. An emotion-driven second half surge sparked Louisville past the Blue Devils, behind 23 points from Russ Smith and 11 rebounds by Gorgui Dieng.

Not So Shocking

As far as “letting in” Wichita State, no team has been able to keep the Shockers from advancing including the Buckeyes on Saturday. The Missouri Valley Conference runner-up to Creighton pulled off four consecutive upsets to make it to the national semifinals. The Shockers’ last Final Four appearance was in 1965, falling to UCLA and Princeton to finish fourth.

Wichita State’s run may surprise some, but the school has consistently been rated high in various rating services including the Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings, the Sagarin Ratings and the BPI notes Bleacher Report. The Shockers may not have a superstar player, but they have depth, play excellent defense and do a wonderful job defending the boards. Once again they will go into a game as the underdog, but with just two wins needed to raise the national championship banner, the most unlikely of the final foursome might just win it all.

See AlsoBracket Busters Abound In NCAA Tournament

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