A Look Back at a Fantastic Final Four
The Madness of March has subsided, but the memories of a fantastic Final Four remain. It’s hard not to get caught up in the NCAA Tournament in any given year, but there was something about the 75th anniversary of the Final Four that distinguishes it as one of the better Big Dances in recent memory. I can’t remember the last time I saw so many strong finishes, early upsets, busted brackets and broken bones.
It’s hard to pinpoint what made the 2013 tourney so special. Watching Harvard and North Carolina A&T win their first tournament games was pretty cool. Maybe it was Florida Gulf Coast becoming the first #15 seed to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, in just their second season of eligibility. I mean, who wasn’t cheering for Dunk City at some point? Or maybe it was the Shockers shocking their way from a #9 seed, past Gonzaga and into the Final Four.
After so many brackets were destroyed, the three Final Four games were definitely ones to remember. Our friends at Clear Men Scalp Therapy sent us to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta to watch the two Final Four semifinal matchups, and it was incredible – great seats, two really good games, a trip to the championship on the line.
For the fourth year in a row, only one #1 seed made it to the Final Four (Louisville). They went on to win it all, but not without some serious challenges and some ridiculously clutch play by Final Four MOP Luke Hancock.
Wichita State became the second #9 seed to advance to the Final Four (Penn did it in 1979). They were also the first Missouri Valley Conference team to make it to the Final Four since Indiana State (also in 1979). It was the first time Wichita State appeared in the Final Four since 1965, and that 48 year gap is the fourth longest Final Four drought streak on record. Only Wisconsin, Stanford, Texas and West Virginia had longer waits between Final Four appearances.
The Michigan and Syracuse game marked the first time in tournament history that two #4 seeds have met in the Final Four. The Wolverines reached their first Final Four since the Fab 5 era. And Syracuse was in the Final Four mix for the first time since Carmelo the Orangemen to a title in 2003.
Wichita State put Louisville in a 12-point hole with 13:35 left in the game, but the eventual champs roared back with Luke Hancock scoring 20 points off the bench. No. 11 fired up the crowd and fed his teammates with energy as the Cardinals rode the emotion to victory.
The Michigan-Syracuse semifinal was a game of runs. The Wolverines attacked Syracuse’s zone defense early and often in the first half. With heavy contributions from the bench, Michigan jumped out to an early lead before Syracuse rolled back in the second half. Clutch three point shooting and serious board crashing allowed Michigan to hang on for the win.
The championship game was another gem. Louisville dug themselves a hole again with a 12-point first-half deficit. Hancock contributed 22 points off the bench and picked the team up yet again. The guy hit four huge three pointers in a row to get the Cardinals back into it. Freshman Spike Albrecht answered for Michigan from three point land, but it wasn’t enough. It was a back and forth battle that looked like it could go either way, but Louisville just kept getting after it and eventually they pulled away and cut down the net, with injured guard Kevin Ware getting the final honors with the scissors.
It was a great finish to an amazing tournament and a fun experience all around thanks to tournament sponsor Clear Men’s Scalp Therapy.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Chris Stout on April 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm, and is filed under Sports. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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