Launch into Leadership

Final Four breakdown: Road to Atlanta, players to watch and keys to victory

The Final Four returns to the Georgia Dome on April 6 and 8 and brings an end to the bracket busting madness that is college basketball.

Here is a brief breakdown of the participants.

SYRACUSE ORANGE

(30-9, 11-7 BIG EAST)

Final Four history: Fifth appearance (2003 champions)

How they got here: Defeated Montana, California and top-seeded Indiana before stifling Marquette, 55-39, in the East Regional final.

Floor general: Michael Carter-Williams is the catalyst. In the East Region final, the sophomore stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists and five steals.

Will cut down the nets if . . . teams can’t solve the 2-3 zone. Head coach Jim Boeheim has employed the defense for decades, yet it remains effective. Syracuse held Indian to 50 points and Marquette managed only 39 points versus the active zone..

 

WICHITA STATE SHOCKERS

(30-8, 12-6 MVC)

Final Four history: Second appearance (1965)

How they got here: Defeated Pittsburgh, top-seeded Gonzaga and La Salle before topping Ohio State, 70- 66, in the West Regional final.

Senior leadership: Malcolm Armstead averaged 10.9 points per game in the regular season and had 14 points and seven rebounds against Ohio State to help the Shockers advance to their first Final Four in 48 years.

Will cut down the nets if . . . they make three-point shots like they did against Gonzaga (14) and Ohio St. (8).

 

MICHIGAN WOLVERINES

(30-7, 12-6 BIG TEN)

Final Four history: Seventh appearance (1989 Champions)

How they got here: Defeated South Dakota State University, VCU and Kansas before downing Florida, 79- 59, in the South Regional final.

Dialing long distance: The Wolverines ousted Kansas and Florida due in large part to their work beyond the three-point arc, nailing eight treys versus the Jayhawks and 10 versus the Gators.

Will cut down the nets if . . . the prolific duo of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. play up to their potential. At times, they have been the best backcourt in the nation this season.

 

LOUISVILLE CARDINALS

(33-5, 14-4 BIG EAST)

Final Four history: Tenth appearance (1980, 1986 champions)

How they got here: Defeated North Carolina A&T, Colorado State and Oregon before dispatching Duke, 85- 63, in the Midwest Regional final.

“Russdiculous:” Junior Russ Smith is playing out of his mind in the NCAA tournament, averaging 26 points per game on 54% shooting from the floor.

Will cut down the nets if . . . the team plane lands safely in Atlanta. The Cardinals are the only No. 1 seed in the Final Four and are operating peerlessy in all aspects of the game.

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