Blogs & Opinion

Alex Ferguson previews final four of college basketball's March Madness

Alex Ferguson Posted 3rd April 2013 view comments

It's the last week of the NCAA Tournament, and we are going to see two gargantuan match-ups in college basketball.

On Saturday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, No.1 Louisville will play No.9 seed and latest tourney Cinderella (now Florida Gulf Coast is out) Wichita State, while in the second game will be the game of the night as in-form No.4 seed Michigan face off against No.4 Syracuse.

Pitino (right) celebrates Louisville's victory over Duke

Pitino (right) celebrates Louisville's victory over Duke

Alex Ferguson looks forward to the Final Four, giving his tips on who will make it to the National Championship Game...

Louisville v Wichita State

Last week Louisville fought with purpose. After not really breaking a sweat in their first two games of March Madness, the Cardinals eased to a 45-31 half-time lead against Oregon before losing concentration to help the Ducks close within eight, but they won 77-69.

Cardinals played Duke off the court in a display that showed why they are overwhelming favourites for the title.\n\n

Alex Ferguson
Quotes of the week

However, it was in the second game that they were stars. Battling with No.2 Duke in the first half, Kevin Ware fell down with a horrific leg injury that even the TV cameras wouldn't replay and the Cardinals were shell-shocked.

Louisville was 35-32 up at the half. Then, Coach Rick Pitino made the adjustments he needed, and the Cardinals played Duke off the court en route to an 85-63 victory in a display that showed any naysayers why they are overwhelming favourites for the title.

They'll play March Madness' latest Cinderella Wichita State, who took over that mantle from Florida Gulf Coast after the Eagles had their wings chomped off by the Florida Gators on Saturday night despite going into an early 11-point lead (incidentally, Andy Enfield, FGCU's coach, has managed to parlay his team's run into a multi-million dollar job with Southern California).

The Shockers - named after people who harvested wheat back in the day (apparently a lot of Wichita State students did that for extra money during the summer months in the times pre-machines) - stunned No.2 Ohio State on Sunday.

The Buckeyes had beaten Temple and then Arizona with last-second three-pointers on their last couple of escapades, but they couldn't stop Wichita State, who sped out to a 35-22 lead before holding off a late red onslaught to book their ticket to the Final Four.

Malcolm Armstead and Fred Van Vleet were the heroes, scoring 14 and 12 points respectively, but this was a team that out-battled, and out-thought the battle-weary Buckeyes. But can they do it again against Louisville, the most complete team the NCAA Tournament has had to offer this year?

Michigan v Syracuse

One of the most fun teams to watch in this tournament has been the Michigan Wolverines. With Tim Hardaway Jr, Glenn Robinson III and Trey Burke, they are definitely one of the most talented teams.

They simply couldn't put together two straight victories during the last three months of the season, and fell from an almost-guaranteed No.1 seed to a No.4, which has actually helped give the team some purpose.

While Burke's shooting electrified everyone on Friday night when he shot from NBA-range to tie up Michigan's Sweet Sixteen game with No.1 Kansas, there's been another player on everyone's lips: Mitch McGary, who was outstanding in the over-time victory over Jayhawks.

And he was brilliant again as Michigan ripped apart No.5 Florida in the Elite Eight in a match-up that was meant to pit two of the best teams in the country against each other, but instead turned into a horror movie for Florida (we re-named it 'A Nightmare on Gator Street'), who were disassembled 79-59.

Well, the 'Fun Four' will play against Syracuse, who bored us all to death against Marquette with a 55-39 victory that was more about great defence than good shooting (they shot 29% beyond the arc and just 19 from 50 in field goal range, but Marquette was worse, shooting 12% from 3-point range and 12 of 53 from the field!) Syracuse will have no problem trying to smother and break Michigan's spirit in the same way as they did Marquette's.

They've got skill to cause damage to Michigan's hoop, too, with future NBA draft pick Michael Carter-Williams, James Southerland, and Brandon Triche all ready to do damage, and anyone of ten players happy to come on the court and out-smother the opposition.

The 'Cuse haven't had much difficulty disposing of opponents all tournament long, so Michigan's going to be a wake-up call for the Orange and their legions of supporters.

We can only hope this game's not as excruciating as the Marquette one.

FERGIE'S FORECAST: Sorry Cinderella, but Louisville's my tip to beat Wichita State - very comfortably indeed - and Michigan will beat Syracuse in a game that could well come down to the final minute. To misquote Jim Hendrix, that would all give us a reason to be excited.

back to top

Other Blogs:

Latest Posts in :

Alex Ferguson

King James reigns

Alex Ferguson celebrates a wacky, smile-inducing year in US sport - and salutes Miami's LeBron James....


Alex Ferguson

Start your engines!

Alex Ferguson predicts who will triumph in NASCAR's showpiece race, the Daytona 500....


Alex Ferguson

Clowney's no joke

US sports expert Alex Ferguson profiles Jadeveon Clowney, the biggest defensive pick of the draft....

Alex Ferguson

Call of the century

Spacemen Portland pick Bowie over Jordan - Alex Ferguson ranks the biggest decisions in US Sport....


Alex Ferguson

A perfect union?

Alex Ferguson looks at the possible unionisation of college football and how he would handle the issue....

Alex Ferguson

Independence aces

Alex Ferguson kicks off his Independence Day fun by picking his 20 best bits of American sport....


Paul Merson

Arsenal must win

Paul Merson says Arsenal have to have a right go and beat West Ham to keep their top-four bid alive....

Graeme Souness

Im-pressed by Bayern

Graeme Souness explains why Bayern's pressing game will yield many more positives than negatives....

Ed Chamberlin

Van the man?

Ed Chamberlin explains why Tejay van Garderen is capable of plucking the Tour de France's Yellow Jersey....


Guillem Balague

Choose Van Gaal

Louis van Gaal is ideal to replace David Moyes at Manchester United, says Guillem Balague....

Stuart Barnes

Rhythm and flow

Stuart Barnes says video referees are ruining the rhythm of games and causing too many delays....

Dewi Morris

Heart and soul

Dewi Morris looks at a crucial weekend in the Championship as we head towards the play-offs....

Phil Clarke

To Hull and back

Phil Clarke looks at the mental damage done to Hull FC and Huddersfield in the Challenge Cup....

Bob Willis

Away for a while

Bob Willis thinks Jonathan Trott will be absent from England duty for some time following his relapse....

Rob Lee

Out of the woods

Rob Lee heralds the return to form of Lee Westwood and says he could yet win multiple majors....

Rob Lee

Pinky and perky

Rob Lee blogs on his vivid Masters Breakfast attire and the men that made waves at Augusta National....

Barry Cowan

Barcelona bounce

Barry Cowan says Rafa Nadal must bounce back in Barcelona and hails the form of Stan Wawrinka....

Mark Petchey

Fillip for Ferrer

Mark Petchey marvels at David Ferrer's win over Rafael Nadal but downplays it's long-term significance....

Alex Hammond

Just Cause

Alex Hammond reveals her tips for the Irish Grand National and the other decent racing in Ireland this weeend....

Alex Hammond

Going the distance

Marathon entrant Alex Hammond previews the Newbury action and Scottish National meeting at Ayr....

Alex Hammond

Rocky's road

Alex Hammond explains why she is backing Rocky Creek and Lion Na Bearnai at the Grand National....

Johnny Nelson

Battle of Manchester

From Crolla's derby delight to Munroe's emotional farewell - Saturday had it all, says Johnny Nelson....

Glenn McCrory

Manny happy returns

Manny Pacquiao is back to his best and could yet get it on with Floyd Mayweather, says Glenn McCrory....

Johnny Nelson

Delighted for DeGale

James DeGale's Matchroom switch is the perfect move to get him back in the mix, says Johnny Nelson....

View from America

The Fog of War

Simon Veness reviews the "torturous" hype ahead of the NFL Draft and why it's so hard to predict....

Neal Foulds

Trump tip

Ronnie O'Sullivan is favourite for the Worlds - but Judd Trump could spring a shock, says Neal Foulds....

Neal Foulds

Night at the Circus

Neal Foulds is looking forward to another fun, raucous Snooker Shoot-Out - but can't pick a winner....


Neal Foulds

Simply the best?

Five-time Masters champion Ronnie O'Sullivan may be the best snooker player ever, says Neal Foulds....


Kelvin Tatum

Gear shift

Wolverhampton and Belle Vue will want to kick-start their seasons on Tuesday night, says Kelvin....

Kelvin Tatum

The contenders

Kelvin Tatum runs through the teams and riders ahead of the 2014 Elite League Speedway season....

Kelvin Tatum

Kelvin's 2013 Review

Kelvin Tatum salutes Poole's hierarchy and Tai Woffinden in his round-up of the speedway season....


Richard Moore

The final curtain

Richard Moore reflects on Sunday's Closing Ceremony to an unforgettable Olympic Games......


Richard Moore

A lasting golden glow

Richard Moore suggests all the British Olympians should visit schools and talk about their experiences....


Richard Moore

Favourite Froome

Richard Moore reveals his predictions for the 100th Tour de France, which starts on Saturday....


Wayne McCullough

Wonderful Davis

Wayne McCullough watched Antonio Rogerio Nogueria take on Phil Davis at UFC Fight Night 24. ...


Wayne McCullough

Jones shines bright

Wayne McCullough was highly impressed as the talented Jon Jones made short work of Mauricio Rua....


Wayne McCullough

A bloody marvel

Wayne McCullough salutes Diego Sanchez as he edges out Martin Kampmann in a UFC humdinger....