Louisville, Michigan headline Final Four

By Jason Kates

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The No. 1 Louisville men’s basketball team routed second-seeded Duke 85-63 on Sunday in Indianapolis, sending the Cardinals to the NCAA Final Four for the second consecutive year.

Despite playing with heavy hearts after witnessing a gruesome leg injury to sophomore guard Kevin Ware, Louisville (33-5) found its rhythm in the second half, going on a 24-6 run behind the play of senior Peyton Siva and junior Russ Smith to put the game out of reach for the Blue Devils (30-6).

Siva and Smith could not be stopped by the Duke defense, as they accounted for 39 of the Cardinals’ 89 points. Junior Gorgui Dieng also had a big game for the Cardinals, recording 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.

The game marked the end of a remarkable four years for Blue Devils seniors Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry, who were part of Duke’s 2010 championship team.

Louisville’s Final Four matchup with No. 9 Wichita State is scheduled for Saturday at 6:09 p.m. on CBS.

Michigan cruises past Florida

Just two days after upsetting top-seeded Kansas in overtime, No. 4 Michigan ran through No. 3 Florida 79-59 on Sunday , clinching a Final Four spot for the first time since 1993.

The game was never in doubt for the Wolverines (30-7, who jumped out to a 13-0 lead over the Gators (29-8, 14-4 SEC) early in the first half.

Freshman Nik Stauskas led the way for Florida, scoring 22 points and hitting all six of his 3-point shots. Sophomore Trey Burke, who arguably made the shot of the tournament last Friday against the Jayhawks, recorded 15 points to go along with eight rebounds and seven assists.

Up 17 at the half, Michigan withstood a brief Florida run at the start of the second half to maintain its big lead, ultimately winning by 20 and punching its ticket to the Final Four.

The Wolverines will face a tough challenge in the semifinals against No. 4 Syracuse, which knocked off No. 3 Marquette on Saturday.

Wichita State does it again

The Cinderella story didn’t end Saturday for No. 9 Wichita State, as it defeated No. 2 Ohio State 70-66 in Los Angeles to advance to its first Final Four in 48 years.

After outscoring the Buckeyes (29-8) 35-22 in the first half, the Shockers (30-8) survived a comeback attempt by Ohio State, which cut the deficit to just four points with two minutes, 10 seconds left in the game. Both teams struggled from 3-point range, going a combined 13-45 from beyond the arc.

Scoring for Wichita State was balanced, with four players recording double-digits. Leading the way offensively for the Shockers was senior Malcom Armstead, who, despite making only 6-of-21 shots, scored 14 points while adding seven rebounds. Junior Deshaun Thomas was the leading scorer for the Buckeyes, tallying 23 points. Junior Aaron Craft, who had made headlines with his play during the tournament, made only two of the 12 shots he took.

Wichita State will continue its run next Saturday when they face Louisville with a trip to the title game on the line.

Jason Kates can be reached at [email protected].