NCAA Tournament Notebook, April 2

Final Four is set

No. 1 Louisville, No. 4 Michigan, No. 4 Syracuse and No. 9 Wichita State are all heading to the Final Four in Atlanta. Louisville will play Wichita State Saturday at 5:09 p.m., and Syracuse will battle Michigan at 7:49 p.m. Saturday.

Wichita State has a chance to become the lowest seed to ever win a national championship. No. 8 Villanova capped its miraculous run in 1985 with an upset win over No. 1 Georgetown.

Shockers live up to their name

It’s safe to say that very few fans, if any, had Wichita State pushing all the way to the Final Four in their brackets. The No. 9 Shockers took advantage of a suddenly weak West region and advanced to the Final Four by beating No. 2 Ohio State 70-66 Saturday. This is the Shockers’ first trip to the Final Four since 1965.

The Shockers did not face No. 3 New Mexico, No. 4 Kansas State or No. 5 Wisconsin, who all lost in the opening round. Wichita State did, however, take care of business against No. 1 Gonzaga to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

Despite shooting just 37 percent from the floor in its win over the Buckeyes on Saturday, Wichita State held Ohio State to 31 percent shooting. The Shockers held a 60-45 lead with 6:50 to go, but the Buckeyes quickly cut the deficit to 62-59 with 2:49 left. Wichita State maintained composure despite missing free throws down the stretch that would have put the game out of reach.

Florida Gulf Coast’s magical run comes to an end

The No. 15 Eagles out of the Atlantic Sun were one of the tournament’s pleasant surprises. Florida Gulf Coast made it all the way to the Sweet 16 before falling to No. 3 Florida, and its success has been the object of much national attention. Coach Andy Enfield is attracting high-profile schools with coaching vacancies, and the Eagles and an FGCU student’s father are battling to trademark the phrase “Dunk City.” The Eagles go back to Fort Myers with high hopes and anticipation for next season.

Ware suffers grisly injury

Louisville’s Kevin Ware suffered a devastating leg injury in Sunday’s win over Duke. With 6:33 left in the first half, Ware ran toward a Duke player to defend his shot. Ware jumped and landed awkwardly on his right leg. Ware’s leg snapped just below the knee, resulting in his tibia protruding about six inches out of his leg.

The injury occurred in front of the Louisville bench, and players and fans immediately grimaced at the sight of it. Play was stopped for nine minutes as Ware was taken off the court on a stretcher.

In his postgame comments, coach Rick Pitino said Ware will likely miss a full year of playing but is expected to make a full recovery.

Player of the Week

Trey Burke, G, Sophomore, Michigan

After going scoreless in the first half of Friday’s wild overtime win over Kansas, Burke finished with 23 points. He also poured in 15 on Sunday in the Wolverines’ win over Florida to help his team move on to the Final Four. The sophomore made a game-tying three-pointer at the end of regulation of the Kansas game, and his clutch performance is a major reason why Michigan is in its first Final Four since 1993 and the Fab Five.

Game of the Week

No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 9 Wichita State — Saturday, 5:09 p.m.

After Kevin Ware’s gruesome injury Sunday against Duke, the Cardinals remained calm and pushed ahead to stifle the Blue Devils. How much of an impact will Ware’s absence have? Will the emotional impact of Ware’s injury propel Louisville over the hot Shockers, or will it take its toll on the Cards? Wichita State has already taken down a No. 1 seed and a No. 2 seed, and it will be interesting to see if its luck will finally run out.

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