Inevitably, as the regional finals wrap up, we look back and wonder whether we should have anticipated the surviving teams' presence in the Final Four. But in almost all cases, the teams that have survived have played better in the tournament than their average performance during the regular season. The group of teams that will be playing in Atlanta this Saturday is no exception.
Three of the teams involved were not exactly rolling before tournament play started. Wichita State was 7-6 in its last 13 games, Syracuse was 8-8 in its last 16, and Michigan was 6-6 in its last 12. I shouldn't have to convince you that each of those teams has improved its play in the tournament in order to survive. Even Louisville -- considered the favorite before the tournament started -- has played its best four-game stretch of basketball of the season in the NCAA tournament. What specifically have these teams done better? Let's look at each case individually.