The 2013 NCAA Tournament has been every bit as unpredictable as expected. The tournament started off with a bang on the first full day of action, as a couple of “12-5” upsets were followed by a game that produced a stunning nightcap when No. 14-seed Harvard knocked off third-seeded New Mexico. Most of America had ripped up its brackets by the end of day two, as the Marshall Henderson-led Ole Miss Rebels bounced fifth-seeded Wisconsin out of the tournament in the day’s first game, shortly before underdog La Salle held off a late rally to upset the fourth-seeded Kansas State Wildcats. But the biggest story of the first round was undoubtedly No. 15-seed Florida Gulf Coast’s shocking upset over the second-seeded Georgetown Hoyas.
The Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast stole headlines again in the next round when they defeated a strong San Diego State team in spectacular fashion, throwing down several highlight-reel dunks on their way to becoming the first 15 seed to make the Sweet Sixteen in the history of the NCAA Tournament. Along the lines of FGCU’s rise from relative unknown to “Dunk City,” the Wichita State Shockers also appeared on the radar of college basketball fans, as they were responsible for bouncing the first No. 1 seed, Gonzaga, from the tournament in the Round of 32. Since the clock struck midnight on Florida Gulf Coast’s Cinderella run, the Shockers have been the talk of the tournament.
With the Final Four stage set, several intriguing, potential scenarios exist. Will Wichita State’s storybook season come to an end, or can they become the first nine seed to ever win a title? Will one of the most unpredictable seasons in history end in predictable fashion with two No. 1 seeds squaring off in the title game? With all of the possible outcomes and storylines, it is bound to be a thrilling conclusion to an incredible year of college hoops. Witness all of the action live in Atlanta at the Georgia Dome with Final Four tickets from Vivid Seats.
Here is a quick background on each squad that will be competing for an NCAA National Championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The Cardinals have certainly been the most impressive of the remaining March Madness participants, making their way through the most difficult region unharmed, while outscoring their opponents by an average of 21.75 points per game. If head coach Rick Pitino can ride his signature full-court press to a national title, he would become the first coach in NCAA history to win a championship with two different schools.
Wichita State Shockers
The aptly named Shockers have had a magical journey to Atlanta, knocking off the two top seeds in the West region on their way to earning the school’s first Final Four berth since 1965. Senior Malcolm Armstead has played inspired basketball in leading this experienced and balanced team, while head coach Greg Marshall will look to guide his team over another Goliath in Louisville, in the hopes to prove that his team’s success thus far has not been a fluke.
The Wolverines have emerged as the last surviving Big Ten team in this year’s tournament, led by league Player of the Year, sophomore Trey Burke. This versatile team can finish at the rim with high-flying dunks or shoot from deep with some of the nation’s deadliest sharpshooters. Even though John Beilein has a 0-9 career record when coaching against Jim Boeheim, his team may just be the biggest threat to solve the mystery of his counterpart’s 2-3 zone defense.
The Orange’s ticket to Atlanta has been a dominant zone defense and an offense lead by the nation’s third-leading assist man, Michael Carter-Williams. With Final Four-opponent Michigan averaging an astounding 78.75 points per game thus far in the tournament, and Syracuse letting up a paltry 45.75 points per game up to this point, something has to give. With its barrage of long and athletic defenders, Syracuse will work to ensure that it won’t be them.