Network Bulletin Final Four
NCAA Final-4 Tournament Previews - Saturday, April 6
(#9 WEST) WICHITA STATE (30-8) vs. (#1 MIDWEST) LOUISVILLE (33-5) - 6:09 p.m. ET, CBS
Or is that big man Gorgui Dieng (11 ppg and 7.5 rebound per-game) has become both a shot-maker and a shot-blocker extraordinaire just in time to make this one of Rick Pitino's most complete tourney teams this side of his 1996 Kentucky club that won it all?
May we suggest the fact that lost amongst all the talk of injured G Kevin Ware (broken leg) the Redbirds are missing a solid on-the-ball defender who adds critical depth to the lineup but the reality is this 'Ville bunch is - still - eight players deep and no one should be surprised here if/when key reserve Montrezl Harrell makes his presence felt here both in the paint and as a defensive force.
The Cards - a heady 10 ½-point betting favorite here in this Final Four tilt - have all the key components to win here and than wrap things up with the school's first men's hoops championship since 1986 come Monday night but consider that PG Peyton Siva can't get into any of his mini-funks and he must continue to drive it hard to the hoop as both he and the aforementioned Smith did quite successfully in last Sunday's explosive 85-63 win against Duke. If Smith and Siva combine for 35 points and 12-to-15 assists here, than W-State will barely stand a chance! For more on this game, and the keys for Wichita State, click here to go to www.JimHurley.com
FRIDAY NIGHT FEATURES MY NATIONAL LEAGUE DOUBLE PLAY
No question the Michigan Wolverines have a little magic working for 'em after that come-from-way-behind Sweet 16 win against Kansas that was followed by last Sunday's wire-to-wire 79-59 triumph over favored Florida but dig a little deeper with this John Beilein-coached crew and you'll see five double-digit scorers in this tourney with "late-bloomer" G Nik Stauskas now joining the crowd after a fabulous 6-of-6 trifecta performance against the not-so-mighty Gators.
Let's just say here that the other starters - Mitch McGary (17.5 ppg), Trey Burke (15.5 ppg), Tim Hardaway, Jr. (13.5 ppg) and Glen Robinson III (also 13.5 ppg) can get near their normal tourney numbers here against this vaunted 'Cuse 2-3 zone - yes, a huge assumption, we admit - than anything Stauskas can add will be gravy but his ability or inability to nail those when-open corner jumpers could well be the key here for the maize-and-blue who live-and-die with the outside jump shot and now have to see just how far out it has to go against the lengthy Syracuse defenders.
On the flip side, the Orange will be glad to have this one go down as a low-scoring affair - Jim Boeheim's crew has held three of its first four tourney foes this spring to 50 points or less - but where will the Big East get its scoring should Michigan have the answer for shutting down key frosh PG Michael Carter-Williams? Note that Williams is averaging 13 points and nearly 5 assists a game in this tournament and you can see he's been gaining confidence fast in the last couple of games but if Michigan commits a player (or two) to shadowing Carter-Williams here than fellow G Brandon Trice has to help with ball-handling responsibilities and that takes away from his usual two-guard roles. Read more about the Orange and what they have to do to win this one - click here.
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