April 1, 2013

MEN'S FINAL FOUR: Cardinals 'sure thing' in season of parity

(Continued from page 1)

Its current four-game winning streak is the first of more than two games since early in the Big Ten season. So, while the No. 4 seed may make sense for the Wolverines (30-7), it may not account for the difference maker they have in All-American Trey Burke. Burke has averaged 18.6 points in the last three games of the tournament, and made a critical long 3-pointer in an unlikely comeback victory over Kansas in the regional semifinals.

Coach John Beilein's job will be to find ways to get shots for Burke against Boeheim's zone.

"He's had an ability, particularly with our teams, to really make sure some of our best shooters don't get open shots, don't get their traditional shots," Beilein said. "So that's our job, to try to figure that out, to make sure we can get clean looks, we call them."

While the Michigan-Syracuse game is considered a near toss-up -- Michigan's a 2-point favorite -- Louisville is favored by 10 1/2 over Wichita State in the first semifinal. It's the second-largest spread for a Final Four since 1985, the year the field expanded to 64 teams.

But Wichita State (30-8) doesn't look at itself as an underdog anymore. Just another in a steadily growing line of George Masons, Butlers and VCUs -- teams from mid-major conferences that have had the gall to crash the party.

"When you look at the run that we've had now, every game all season long was winnable," Marshall said. "But when we didn't win them, it's interesting now that we're facing Louisville, because I pointed to Louisville. I pointed to Kansas. These are great teams with great coaches that also suffered that type of blip, if you will, in their run to a marvelous season."

 

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