This is not 2012 and we do not have a Kentucky, a dominant unit with seemingly endless lottery and first-round picks.
While each team left is peaking, none of the Final Four teams is perfect. There is a blueprint on how to beat each squad, even Louisville, our prohibitive favorite.
A look at the key weakness for each team as we get set for Atlanta.
Winners of 14 straight, the Cardinals' main weapon is superior quickness and relentless pressure on the defensive end. Per KenPom, Coach Rick Pitino's team ranks second nationally in defensive turnovers, at a remarkable rate of 27.5 percent. To beat that pressure, teams must attack just as aggressively. As expected, Duke and specifically point guard Quinn Cook, played timidly against the full-court pressure. However, with their own dose of ball reversals and ball fakes, along with sound plays, opponents can alleviate the pressure enough to run an offense.
Michigan boasts an elite offensive unit and has been shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor during the tournament, but I still question the Wolverines' interior toughness. Aside from freshman Mitch McGary (the only Wolverine to average more than 6 rebounds), who's been tremendous by the way, Michigan is relying heavily on Glenn Robinson III. "Little Dog" is a terrific talent, but only a freshman, and facing the vaunted 'Cuse zone and slew of bigs could pose serious problems. Michigan ranked just 156th in the country in rebounding, and as we know, second chance opportunities are a must against the Orange.
Syracuse's 2-3 matchup zone has been stellar in the tournament, most recently holding Marquette to just 39 points. The key to this particular zone is the Orangemen's supreme length and activity. Even when the ball gets to the high post or the short corner -- usually a weakness of any zone -- the combination of Baye Keita, Rakeem Christmas and C.J. Fair covers up gaps very quickly. However, when the zone expands to the free-throw line and the bigs are forced away from the paint consistently, the 'Cuse becomes susceptible to offensive rebounds and open 3s.
The Shockers are more likely a better coached team than they are a talented one, but because of their toughness and defensive efficiency (their four opponents in the tournament shot just 39 percent inside the arc, per ESPN Stats & Info), they can overcome a poor shooting night. As good as Malcolm Armstead is, the Shockers lack a true go-to option. Nobody on the roster averages more than 13 points a game so, while offensive balance is certainly a plus, lacking a superstar can become an issue as well.
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