(9) Wichita State vs. (1) Louisville
6:09 p.m., CBS
Saturday's first match-up puts the one-seeded Louisville Cardinals against the upstart Wichita State Shockers, out of the Missouri Valley Conference.
The heavy favorite Cardinals will be playing with heavy hearts after the gut-wrenching injury to sophomore guard Kevin Ware last week.
Russ Smith is playing lights out and seems on a mission since the passing of his high school coach and New York legend Jack Curran last month. Smith has averaged 26 points in the tournament to along with 54.1 percent shooting from the field. Center Gorgui Dieng has averaged 12 points,10 rebounds and four blocks in the team's Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games against Oregon and Duke.
Though the Ware injury will hurt. Ware was able to give Smith and backcourt mate Peyton Siva rest when needed. It remains to be seen who coach Rick Pitino will turn to in these key situations. If Smith or Siva get in foul trouble, it could spell doom for the Cardinals.
While this game seems like a no-brainer and easy win for the Cardinals, it will be anything but.
The Shockers are playing solid basketball and don't have a weak spot on the floor. Freshman Ron Baker can stroke it from beyond the arc, as can guards Malcolm Armstead and Tekele Cotton. While big men Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall are beasts down low.
Coach Gregg Marshall will need his team to play their best game if the Shockers hope to get past Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals.
Wichita State continues to shock when Louisville gets into early foul trouble. Wichita State 66 Louisville 63
(4) Syracuse vs. (4) Michigan
8:49 p.m., CBS
I can't wait for this game. On one side - Michael Carter-Williams, C.J. Fair and James Southerland; on the other - The properly named Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III. Let's do this.
Carter-Williams has been lights out for coach Jim Boeheim, shooting close to 50 percent in tournament play and dominating opposing point guards. He's been maintaining possession for `Cuse and protecting the ball, which will be crucial in Saturday's match-up against Michigan. The sophomore has just two turnovers in the last two games along with nine steals. That's high efficiency.
The Syracuse 2-3 zone has been suffocating opponents. The length they have on the wings with Southerland and Fair, both 6-foot-8, have forced teams into turnovers, giving the Orange easy transition buckets. Senior Brandon Triche will need to play solid on both ends of the floor if he expects to lead his team to victory.
Burke has been every bit the player of year he was named this week. Bringing the Wolverines back from the dead against Kansas in the Sweet 16 to keep their title hopes alive.
While Burke's three saved them against Rock Chalk nation, its been the emergence and maturation of freshman Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III that have been key for Michigan. McGary has provided the needed inside presence the team has been looking for while Robinson has made all the loose-ball plays that are pivotal to a team's success. Along with freshman sharp-shooter Nik Stauskas, 6-for-6 on three pointers against Florida, Michigan has a team that can be dominate for years to come. Hardaway may be the best player on the court Saturday night, and will have to play like it if Michigan has any chance against the 2-3 zone.
MCW has half-a-foot on Burke, and don't be fooled, that means something. Michigan will be back next year. Syracuse 83 Michigan 75