One of the classic adages in sports is that players win games and coaches lose them. The Final Four features two of the all-time great coaches in Louisville's Rick Pitino, and Syracuse's Jim Boeheim (920 wins), who becomes the first coach ever to reach a Final Four in four different decades.
A look at how each team embodies the strength and style of its head coach:
Syracuse, Jim Boeheim
2-3 Matchup Zone
No surprises here, but Boeheim, 68, continues to employ the matchup zone no matter the circumstance. In the tournament, the 'Cuse has allowed just 61 total made field goals. Perhaps more impressively, it has amassed a combined 69 steals and blocked shots. The beauty of this particular zone is its length and activity. Rakeem Christmas, Baye Keita and C.J. Fair are very active and the big guard duo of All-American Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche loves to pressure from 22 feet. Per ESPN.com, the Orange is allowing 0.72 points per possession during the tournament and ranks first in America in total block rate.
Michigan, John Beilein
We can talk about Big Blue's dynamic offense or trapping 1-2-2 zone, but with coach John Beilein, it's about getting kids to fit his system. What is that system? It's getting his son Patrick, a lightly recruited swingman who walked on to West Virginia, to score more than 1,000 points for his career. It's getting Trey Burke, a 3-star recruit, to be named the AP and Wooden Player of the Year. And it's getting Tim Hardaway, Jr. to become a future first-round pick despite hailing from Miami and not being recruited by the then-struggling Hurricanes or Florida programs. Beilein, who is at 60 coaching in his first Final Four, just has a way of gaining players' trust and getting them to buy in. He's 0-9 for his career against Boeheim and Syracuse, but Saturday night could be a night to toss those numbers out.
Louisville, Rick Pitino
Play Fast, Play Aggressive, Never Stop!
The Cardinals are the tournament's top overall seed, yet are probably the third most talented team in the Final Four, behind Syracuse and Michigan. Pitino though, trying to reach the national title game for the second straight season, has once again coached his team to its absolute peak. Take the Duke game in the Elite Eight. Duke's Seth Curry had been lights out, so when he faced Louisville, Pitino not only wanted to shut him down, but he wanted him to struggle just to get a clean look. Curry -- the Blue Devils' leading scorer -- didn't even attempt a shot until midway through the first half. The Cardinals, per KenPom, have the second best defensive efficiency in the country, and it's because Pitino has them conditioned to run, trap and be relentless for 40 minutes, no matter what else happens.
Wichita State, Gregg Marshall
I've talked at length about the Shockers' overall toughness, but coach Gregg Marshall demands nothing less. According to Synergy Sports, his club has played a total of 2,221 defensive possessions in man and a mere 158 in zone. For most teams that don't have great length or a lottery pick-type shot blocker in the middle -- a la the Shockers -- being a man team is just not an option. Credit Marshall though, because that's his philosophy and it has worked very well. Per ESPN.com, Wichita State allows just 43 percent shooting inside the 3-point line.
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