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March Madness Final Four: Studs and Duds
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On April 7, 2013 @ 12:29 am In NCAA | No Comments
There were two exciting games on Saturday and now the national championship match-up is set. Louisville will take on Michigan on Monday night for the title. Here were the studs and duds of the Final Four:
Mitch McGary, Michigan – McGary put the Wolverines on his back on Saturday night and he’s the main reason why they’re advancing to the national championship game. The freshman forward had 10 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and two blocks in the win over Syracuse. He was incredibly efficient, hitting four of eight shots from the field. He missed three free throws late in the game, but he still lands on the studs list because he had a solid all-around game and lifted Michigan to their first title game since 1989. Earlier in the tournament, McGary insisted that he would be returning to Michigan for his sophomore season, saying there was a “100 percent” chance that he’d be back. However, he’s now backtracking and saying that he’ll make a decision in the coming weeks. He’s looking like a first-round pick after this excellent showing during the tournament, so it’s hard to imagine him returning to Michigan.
Luke Hancock, Louisville – Russ Smith has been Louisville’s best player during the tournament, but Hancock was the stud of the game against Wichita State. Sure, Smith had a team-high 21 points, but he was 6-17 from the field and 5-12 from the free throw line. Smith also had a team-high five turnovers. Hancock was much more efficient, scoring 20 points on 6-9 shooting from the field. The junior was outstanding off of the Cardinals’ bench. In addition to his 20 points, he also had four rebounds, two assists and two steals in 31 minutes. Hancock averaged just 7.4 points during the season, which is why his huge game was such a surprise. He chose an excellent time to have his best outing of the year.
Cleanthony Early, Wichita State – Early was terrific during the tournament. He led Wichita State during their remarkable run, and Saturday evening was no different. The junior forward had a team-high 24 points and 10 rebounds in the loss to Louisville. He was 8-14 from the field, including 2-4 from three-point range, and 5-7 from the free throw line. The 2013 NCAA Tournament was a coming out party for Early so it’s fitting that he went out with a bang.
C.J. Fair, Syracuse – The Orange didn’t advance to the championship game, but Fair played extremely well in the loss to Michigan. Not only did he swarm the ball on the defensive end, he was Syracuse’s leading scorer as well. Fair filled the stat sheet on Saturday evening, finishing the game with 22 points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block. He and Brandon Triche (11 points, eight assists and three rebounds) really carried the Orange since Michael Carter-Williams and James Southerland struggled on the offensive end.
Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse – Carter-Williams had been one of the most impressive players during the tournament, leading the Orange in every round and helping his NBA draft stock. However, the sophomore guard really struggled in the loss to Michigan. He had just two points on 1-6 shooting from the field and two assists. He was responsible for just 10.7 percent of his team’s points (6 of 56), which was a season-low for Carter-Williams. He also had five turnovers and then fouled out in the final minutes of the game, just as Syracuse was making a late push. Carter-Williams picked a bad time to have one of his worst games of the year. This will likely be the last game of his college career since he’s being projected as a lottery pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Trey Burke, Michigan – Burke has been great this season, which is why he was named Player of the Year, but he had one of his worst games of the season against Syracuse. Michigan was able to advance to the national championship game thanks to huge performances from Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III among others, but the Wolverines will need their sophomore guard to play better against Louisville if they want to win it all. Burke had just seven points on 1-8 shooting from the field. He was able to contribute five rebounds, four assists and three steals (while turning the ball over just one time against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense), but he’ll have to step up offensively on Monday night. There was a lot of talk about Carter-Williams and Burke entering this game, but the point guard battle didn’t live up to the hype.
James Southerland, Syracuse – Southerland hit two shots in the loss to Michigan. Both field goals came in the final minutes – a three-pointer and a one-handed dunk – but it was too little too late for the Orange. Outside of those two shots, Southerland was 0-7 from the field, including four misses from three-point range. Southerland had several open looks throughout the evening, but he wasn’t knocking them down. Syracuse’s offense really needed a few of those attempts to go down.
Malcolm Armstead, Wichita State – Armstead has been extremely inconsistent during the tournament. Against Pittsburgh and La Salle, he shot the ball well and was one of the Shockers’ top offensive players. Against Gonzaga and Ohio State, he missed a lot of shots and hurt Wichita State offensively. Tonight, Armstead struggled again, finishing with just two points on 1-10 shooting from the field, including 0-5 from three-point range, against Louisville. The senior guard also had four fouls and three turnovers in the loss.
Peyton Siva, Louisville – Siva hasn’t played very well during the tournament, but Saturday was by far his worst game. The senior guard had just seven points on 1-9 shooting from the field, including 0-5 from three-point range. Siva had trouble against Wichita State’s defense and he’ll have to be more efficient in the championship game because Michigan will make Louisville pay for wasted possessions.
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