The Union Recorder

Local Sports

April 1, 2013

The Final Four is set after blowouts, surprises

ATLANTA — An inspired Louisville squad vs. the surprising Shockers.

A new group of Fab Wolverines vs. the stingiest zone defense in college basketball.

After a weekend of blowouts and another upset, the Final Four is set.

Top overall seed Louisville will face Wichita State at the Georgia Dome next Saturday, while Michigan takes on Syracuse in the other national semifinal. The winners advance to the April 8 championship.

On Sunday, the Cardinals drew inspiration from a gruesome injury to guard Kevin Ware and cruised past Duke 85-63 in the Midwest Regional. Michigan led from the opening tip, routing Florida 79-59 in the South.

A day earlier, Syracuse shut down Marquette 55-39 to win the East. Wichita State punched its Final Four ticket with a 70-66 upset of Ohio State out West.

In the final year of the Big East before it splits into two new conferences, Louisville and Syracuse provided a fitting send-off to a league that quickly became a basketball powerhouse after it was founded in 1979.

Before it goes, this version of the Big East has a shot at one more national title.

With two teams, no less.

The Cardinals — who, like Syracuse, are moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference — were the only No. 1 seed to make it to the Final Four. And, boy, it's been an impressive run.

Louisville (33-5) has won its four NCAA games by an average margin of nearly 22 points, capped by a second-half blowout of Duke after the Cardinals shook off the incredible shock of Ware's injury with about 6½ minutes to go before halftime.

"We won this for him," coach Rick Pitino said.

The sophomore snapped his lower right leg after coming down awkwardly while defending a 3-point shot. The injury occurred right in front of the Louisville bench, where the players gasped and turned away quickly at the sight of Ware's dangling leg, which was broken in two places.

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