INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA Final Four in Atlanta this weekend serves as a fair representation of the 2012-13 season of college basketball.
In a year where it seemed like anything could happen and teams ranked No. 1 seemingly dropped every week, the four teams in Atlanta fit that mold.
No. 1 seed and Midwest champion Louisville spent portions of the season as the No. 1 team in the country and entered the postseason as the top overall seed.
No. 4 seed Michigan, the South champion, also spent some of the season ranked No. 1 and the entire year ranked highly.
Syracuse, a No. 4 seed and the East champion, started 18-1 and ended the regular season 5-7 before getting hot in the postseason.
No. 9 seed Wichita State and West champion went 26-8 before the NCAA tournament and is only the second No. 9 seed to ever make the Final Four.
The Cardinals’ balance and depth have afforded them the favorite label throughout March and they’ve backed it up. Louisville’s closest game has been eight points against No. 12 Oregon, 77-69, in the Sweet 16. They beat No. 16 seed North Carolina A&T, No. 8 seed Colorado State and No. 2 seed Duke by an average of 26.3 points.
Louisville’s leading scorer Russ Smith is averaging 26 points per game in the NCAA tournament, including a 31-point outburst against Oregon.
The Cardinals’ defensive anchor Gorgui Dieng is averaging 2.5 blocks per game and had four in the contests against Duke and Oregon.
Louisville is looking for the school’s first NCAA championship since 1986 but the tournament giant killer stands in the way.
Wichita State will have an opportunity to continue knocking off top teams in the first game at 6:09 p.m. Saturday against Louisville. The Shockers beat No. 1 seed Gonzaga 76-70 in the round of 32 and beat No. 2 Ohio State 70-66 in the Elite Eight.
Scoring at least 70 points in all of Wichita State’s four tournament games, the Shockers should not be a surprise for the Cardinals come Saturday.