The 2013 Final Four was set up after the second day of the Elite Eight weekend, as the only number one seed left in the tournament, Louisville, used the Kevin Ware injury to push them way too far and high for Duke to catch up, while Michigan showed Florida that not having any sort of offensive initiative isn’t the way to succeed against them, winning by way more than anyone expected.
Kevin Ware, with a broken leg, on the court, is what most people will remember from the night in Indianapolis. And yet, Louisville simply played an excellent game of basketball, reaching its third final four under Rick Pitino, who also shed a tear as Ware was taken off the court, leading his players, who lost in the semifinal to Kentucky a year ago, to a very impressive 85-63 win over Duke, with all of its talents finding their glaring limitations come and bite them all at once.
Louisville outrebounded them 35-26, but most importantly outscored them 50-31, defending the three point shot (allowing only 25% for the Blue Devils) to near perfection, while keeping it a high paced, athletic kind of contest, something Duke couldn’t keep up with on both ends of the floor. Russ Smith, for the fourth consecutive game, was simply too much for anyone to handle, scoring 23 points, and Gorgui Dieng proved his usefulness with 14 points and 11 rebounds, also getting 4 blocks, making life very hard for Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee.
But the real hero was Peyton Siva. He’s never the most talented player on the floor, but he’s got more heart and hustle than anyone else, not too mention influence on his teammates. He finished the game with 16 points, 8 of them coming in a 20-4 run early in the second half that put Duke in the rear window for the speeding Cardinals truck, heading towards Atlanta.
In the earlier game, Michigan proved that all those that didn’t believe in their ability to be more than just Trey Burke should simply put their pens down. The Florida defense wasn’t what it has been all season long, maybe telling us a thing or two about the SEC. While Trey Burke was limited to 15 points and 5-16 from the field, he did add 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals. However, there was still plenty of scoring that Floirda couldn’t stop.
Nick Stauskas finished with 22 points on a nearly flawless shooting afternoon – he was 5-for-5 on 3-pointers and 6-for-6 overall in the first half, and the only thing he missed in the opening 20 minutes was one of his free throws. Mitch McGary didn’t explode like in the rest of the tournament, but he led the Wolverines to the 13-0 run they opened the game with, as Florida never got closer than 11 points after that. For Michigan, exploding with offensive talent, it’s the first Final Four appearance in 19 years.