With two Big East teams - Louiville, Syracuse - in the national semifinals and the Missouri Valley's Wichita State crashing the party as a #9 seed out of the West region, the stage is set for the final weekend of college hoops. Michigan represents the Big Ten from the South region.
Both semifinal games will be played on Saturday, April 6, with the championship game slated for Monday night, April 8. In the opening match-up at 6:09 pm EDT, #9 Wichita State meets the tournament's #1 overall seed, Louisville, champions of the Midwest region.
The late Saturday game between Syracuse, the #4 seed from the East, and Michigan, the #4 seed from the South, will follow, roughly 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game. The tentative tip time is 8:49 pm EDT.
Following are a selection of tournament notes and stats for the four teams remaining. Each has won four straight games in the tourney.
Louisville has claim to the nation's longest winning streak at 14 straight. Their last defeat was on February 9, in a 104-101, 5 OT loss at Notre Dame. The other three teams have each won just four straight, as all of them fell in their respective conference tournaments. Syracuse was hammered by Louisville in the Big East championship game, 78-61. Wichita State lost to Creighton, 68-65, in the MVC final, but gets the last laugh as the big dance survivor. Creighton was ousted by Duke in the third round, winning just one game, 67-63, over the Cincinnati Bearcats.
Michigan lost to Wisconsin, 68-59, in the Big Ten tourney quarterfinals on March 16. The six days between their last loss and the opening of the tournament may have given the Wolverines some needed rest, propelling them to the Final Four.
Louisville (33-5, 14-4 Big East)
Michigan (30-7, 12-6 Big Ten)
Wichita State (30-8, 12-6 MVC)
Syracuse (30-9, 11-7 Big East)
Tournament Margins of Victory
Louisville: average: 21.75 (largest, 31, NC A&T, second round)
Syracuse: average: 20.00 (largest, 47, Montana, second round)
Michigan: average: 15.50 (largest, 25, VCU, third round)
Wichita State: average: 10.50 (largest, 18, Pittsburgh, second round)
Louisville: Russ Smith, 26.0 ppg
Michigan: Mitch McGary, 17.5
Wichita St.: Malcolm Armstead, 15.5
Syracuse: CJ Fair, 13.75
Michigan: Mitch McGary, 11.5 rpg
Louisville: Gorgui Dieng, 7.5
Wichita St.: Cleanthony Early, 7.0
Syracuse: CJ Fair, 6.0
Michigan: Trey Burke, 7.8 apg
Louisville, Peyton Siva, 5.0
Syracuse, Michael Carter-Williams, 4.8
Wichita St.: Malcolm Armstead, 3.8
Michigan: Tim Hardaway Jr., 10-20, .500
Syracuse, James Southerland, 7-19, .368
Wichita St., Ron Baker, 6-15, .400
Louisville, Russ Smith, 6-19, .316
Free Throws Made, %
Louisville: Russ Smith, 32-40, .800
Wichita St.: Ron Baker, 20-23, .870
Syracuse, Brandon Triche, 17-23, .739
Michigan, Trey Burke, 11-11, 1.000
Wichita St.: 9
Wichita St.: 1
Louisville: 2 (1980, 1986)
Syracuse: 1 (2003)
Michigan: 1 (1989)
Wichita State: 0