After a long week hiatus, college basketball is back in full effect tonight with the Final Four commencing in Atlanta. The opening game features one of the largest point spreads in Final Four history, while the second game is a near pick ‘em. So will the night be slow starting in terms of drama and ramp up to a nice conclusion? Historically, large underdogs have done well in the Final Four the last 15 years. Underdogs of seven points or greater are 4-1 ATS in the Final Four. That would lean things in favor of the Shockers being able to live up to their namesake…
So can they pull off the historic upset? Can they at least make things interesting? Let’s dig inside tonight’s Final Four matchup and try to find an edge.
Wichita State Shockers vs. Louisville Cardinals -10
Louisville has ripped through the tournament so far in a fashion befitting a #1 overall seed. They’ve won every game by double-digits and were only tested for a brief period; in the first half against Duke, and have dominated all seven other halves of play. The second half against Duke was reminiscent of the jaw-dropping 56-26 second half they threw on Syracuse to close to door on the Big East championship and really get the basketball world’s attention.
Wichita State meanwhile has been nearly as impressive. The absolutely throttled Pitt in their first round game, then followed it up with a win over #1 seed Gonzaga that wasn’t really as close as the score. The Shockers had a lead throughout most of the game and hung on without too many tense moments. They beat La Salle with ease, and despite letting Ohio State get back to within three in the Regional Final, led by as many as 21 points and never trailed in the ballgame.
Historically, big underdogs might have fared well in the Final Four, but teams akin to Wichita State; George Mason and VCU, took similar paths to the Final Four only to have their dreams dismissed less-than-dramatically in the National Semifinal. I think the same thing happens tonight.
Louisville’s guards are playing at a level beyond any other team in the country. Assuming Peyton Siva can avoid foul trouble; the Shockers don’t have anyone who can stay in front of him all night. That’s not a knock on WSU; no one in the country has the person who can stay in front of Siva. And Russ Smith is playing at an historically good level, becoming only the fourth player EVER to score over 20 points in four straight games en route to leading his team to the Final Four. Thinking he cools off tonight would be, well, Russ-diculous.
Add in the emotional factor of Kevin Ware’s gruesome injury and the incredible galvanizing effect it has had on an already tight team, and I don’t see any way Louisville loses this game tonight. I’d like a close game as a basketball fan, but I honestly don’t think we’ll get one. Louisville is significantly quicker and deeper, even with the Ware injury. I like them to win tonight and cover the large spread.
Free Pick: Louisville Cardinals -10