2013 Final Four predictions: Louisville, Michigan will prevail

By Eye on College Basketball staff | CBSSports.com

After nearly a week of analysis, the picks are in.

CBSSports.com's team of college basketball experts descended on Atlanta and the Final Four this week, prepared to scrutinize the prevailing wisdom that said Louisville and Michigan would meet for the national championship on Monday night.

The consensus? Not too surprising, as you'll see below. That said, Syracuse fans will find a couple of votes of confidence among our panelists.

You can get mad at them if you want (and undoubtedly will in the comments section), but at least they're willing to explain themselves:

Louisville vs. Wichita State, 6:09 p.m. ET (CBS)

Jeff Goodman, College Basketball Insider

This is where it ends for Wichita State. The Shockers are tough and are shooting the ball well from the perimeter, but Gregg Marshall's team hasn't seen a team like the Louisville Cardinals. Peyton Siva and Russ Smith are playing as well as they have all year, and Rick Pitino has a rim protector in Gorgui Dieng, who will give Wichita fits with his length and shot-blocking ability. Wichita State also has trouble defending ball screens -- and that's where this Louisville team is most dangerous. Siva and Smith will cause problems for Wichita with their speed, ability to push the ball on offense and the pressure the two can put on the opposition from a defensive standpoint. Louisville will miss Kevin Ware, but the Cardinals are one of the few teams in the country that has the depth to withstand such a loss. Prediction: Louisville

Gary Parrish, College Basketball Insider

We spent most of this season talking about how college hoops lacked a truly dominant team, which was true. But it's not true anymore. Louisville has emerged as dominant, which is why the Cardinals are heavy favorites to not only beat Wichita State but win the national championship. Rick Pitino's team has won 14 consecutive games by an average of 17.3 points, and the past 10 victories have all come at the expense of schools that also played in this NCAA tournament. So will the loss of Kevin Ware hurt the Cardinals? Yes, it will. But not enough to keep them from ending Wichita State's remarkable run. Louisville is just too talented, too deep, too experienced and, quite simply, too good. Prediction: Louisville

Gregg Doyel, National Columnist

The Shockers barely, just barely, average more assists than turnovers and have had four games with at least 19 turnovers this season. That's a bad look for a team about to play Louisville, which probably has the nastiest, turnover-forcingest defense in the country. If the Shockers give the Cardinals 15 or more free possessions, many of which become easy Louisville buckets, I don't see how the Shockers can win. Spotting a great team two big handfuls of possessions, and baskets, is a sure way to lose, which means I see Wichita State losing this game. No offense, Wichita State fans. This doesn't mean I dislike your team, your coach, your city, your state or even your time zone. It just means I don't think your team can handle Louisville's pressure. Prediction: Louisville

Jeff Borzello, Eye on College Basketball

Wichita State has been one of the best stories of the NCAA tournament, making a run to the Final Four as a No. 9 seed. The Shockers are physical, talented, and have been making shots at an impressive clip. But it won't continue against Louisville. The Cardinals are the best defensive team in the country, and their pressure could be extremely disruptive against Malcolm Armstead and the Shockers. Wichita State looked rattled when Ohio State went to a press late in the game, and Louisville will do that for 40 minutes. Moreover, Louisville has the big men and the depth to bang with Wichita State on the glass and in the paint. Can the Shockers keep Russ Smith and Peyton Siva out of the lane and out of transition? No one has in the NCAA tournament -- and it's going to be tough on Saturday. Throw in the emotional edge of having Kevin Ware on the bench, and Louisville has all the ingredients to advance to Monday. Prediction: Louisville

Matt Norlander, Eye on College Basketball

Boy, I'd love this to be close. I'd love for Wichita State to become the next Butler and make a national title game. But I think we're looking at a result much closer to George Mason in '06. That George Mason team was really solid, worthy of its Final Four showing -- but ran into the best team in the tournament in Florida that year. WSU is facing the same fate against Louisville on Saturday. And it's reached a point where I haven't heard anyone talking about Wichita State keeping it close/within 10 points. I think that is possible, but remote. The Shockers will need to have a 3-point barrage, sink at least 10 of them, to keep it interesting and the result in doubt. But as much as I don't want another blowout, give me Louisville with room to spare. Prediction: Louisville

Jerry Palm, Bracketology Expert

The Shockers lived up to their name, using a smothering defense and better-than-expected 3-point shooting to become the first No. 9 seed to reach the Final Four since 1979. Now they face the top overall-seeded Cardinals, who bring a smothering defense of their own. I don't think Wichita can win this one without Louisville's help. It's going to take a bad shooting day, or foul trouble, or something like that to give the Shockers a chance. As good as WSU is, the four best players on the court will be wearing white. Prediction: Louisville

Michigan vs. Syracuse, approx. 8:49 p.m. ET (CBS)

Jeff Goodman, College Basketball Insider

This is a tough call, but Trey Burke is the elite point guard in the country and should be able to get into the teeth of the Syracuse 2-3 zone. The Wolverines also have enough guys who can make shots from the perimeter, but the key will be penetration from Burke. I see freshman big man Mitch McGary getting plenty of garbage buckets down low because of Burke's ability to get into the lane and force the Cuse frontline guys to step up. Nik Stauskas will also need to follow up on his shooting performance last game, but the Canadian freshman can do more than just shoot it -- and he'll be able to show that against the Orange. Michael Carter-Williams needs to play well for Syracuse and take care of the ball, but the Orange will need to be clicking on all cylinders to beat the young Wolverines -- and that means guys like Brandon Triche, James Southerland and C.J. Fair all producing. I don't think that group will be consistent enough to get it done. Prediction: Michigan

Gary Parrish, College Basketball Insider

That Syracuse is here despite losing seven of its 12 games before the Big East tournament is wild and a testament to Jim Boeheim's ability to right a ship that seemed badly off-course. But I'm not a big believer in the defense-wins-championships theory, at least not as it pertains to this sport. What I do believe, though, is that offense wins championships, and the nation has no better offensive team than Michigan. Trey Burke is terrific in transition and in halfcourt sets. He creates open looks for teammates who hit enough of them, proof being the Wolverines' effective field-goal percentage of 54.6, which ranks 11th nationally. So does Syracuse's zone create an interesting challenge? Of course. But Michigan will have enough shooters on the court at all times to combat it, and that'll be the key to the Wolverines winning a close game. Prediction: Michigan

Gregg Doyel, National Columnist

The Michigan team I saw in Arlington, Texas -- the team I saw demolish Florida in the South regional title game, anyway -- can beat Syracuse. But what are the odds that same Michigan team, the one getting historically perfect perimeter shooting from freshman wing Nik Stauskas and 10-of-11 shooting from freshman center Mitch McGary -- shows up Saturday night? Slim to none, and none left town the second he heard about Syracuse's zone defense. Listen, the bracket I posted online here at CBSSports.com has Michigan in the title game, so this isn't an anti-Michigan thing. This is just an acknowledgement that great defense tends to beat great offense in the Final Four, and I've never seen a defense playing as great as the one at Syracuse. Prediction: Syracuse

Jeff Borzello, Eye on College Basketball

This is going to be the intriguing game on Saturday, as Michigan's perimeter-oriented attack takes on the vaunted 2-3 zone of Syracuse. No one has been able to get open shots against the Orange's defense during the NCAA tournament, but Michigan could break that streak. The Wolverines have the shooters to spread out the Syracuse zone, which could open up the foul-line area for Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr. If either of those players can get the ball uncontested at the high post, it's going to be a long day for Syracuse. Both are capable of hitting midrange jumpers or kicking out to perimeter shooters. We saw Nik Stauskas get wide-open looks all day against Florida's defense -- Syracuse can't allow that to happen. And we haven't even mentioned National Player of the Year Trey Burke or the offensive rebounding prowess of Mitch McGary. If Syracuse is going to win, Michigan needs to have a terrible shooting day. That won't happen. Prediction: Michigan

Matt Norlander, Eye on College Basketball

What's more reliable: Michigan's No. 1-rated offense with the best player in college basketball, or the Syracuse zone that's shut down some pretty effective offensive teams over the past month? When you have the point guard to break down the fences and the size, strength, quickness and shooting around you, like Trey Burke does, I have to lean to Michigan. The Wolverines have become the favorite in this as well. And I think it'd be pretty great to get the No. 1 D (Louisville) play the No. 1 O in college hoops' ultimate game. I'll take the Wolverines, which will additionally set up a Big East-Big Ten final, fitting as those were the two best leagues in the land this season. Prediction: Michigan

Jerry Palm, Bracketology Expert

This should be a fun game. Michigan is the team best suited to attack the Syracuse zone that the Orange will have faced so far in this tournament. The Wolverines have a good penetrator in Trey Burke and guys who can shoot over the zone. They will have to be judicious and patient on offense, though, and players like Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary, both freshmen, will be asked to make good, quick decisions with the ball in the center of the zone. That could be where things fall apart. Prediction: Syracuse

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