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Thursday, April 4, 2013
Picking the Final Four matchups

By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com

Here are my thoughts on Saturday's Final Four games.

Louisville Cardinals vs. Wichita State Shockers

Rick Pitino's club is playing on a mission. I picked Louisville to win the national championship and nothing has changed my mind.

Russ Smith and Peyton Siva are right there among the best guard tandems in America. They dominated against Duke, along with Gorgui Dieng at the start of the second half.

Louisville's pressure defense is so tough. It wears down the opposition. Can it affect Wichita State?

The Shockers have been the story of the tournament so far. They are a No. 9 seed going to the Final Four by playing as a team, showing great balance on offense and have great game plans on defense. The Shockers made Aaron Craft into a shooter and he went two-of-12 in the regional final.

Can they find an answer inside to stop Dieng? Malcolm Armstead will be ready for the challenge against Smith and Siva. Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall have to have big performances for the Shockers to have a chance.

Pick: Louisville

Michigan Wolverines vs. Syracuse Orange

Michigan looked like it was finished until an incredible stretch against Kansas. Now it is off to Atlanta.

It has been an impressive run for the Wolverines. Michigan jumped out to a big lead early against a good Florida team and was never challenged. Mitch McGary has had a super tournament so far, with 70 points, 46 rebounds, hitting 33-of-45 shots from the floor.

Trey Burke had another solid performance in the regional final with 15 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and one turnover. This team has grown up in a hurry.

Nik Stauskas had a great performance against Florida in the regional final, hitting all six of his trifecta tries in the win. He will be a factor against the Orange zone.

Jim Boeheim is in his fourth Final Four, and he is 3-0 in national semifinals. The Orange defense has been outstanding in the tournament, holding opponents to 29 percent from the field and 15 percent on three-pointers.

Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche believe they can perform well against the tandem of Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.

Can the Orange slow down McGary in the paint? He is a superb offensive rebounder and can grab boards against the zone.

It is a showdown between Michigan's efficient offense against the tenacious Syracuse defense, which has not given up more than 60 points in any game during the tournament.

Pick: Michigan