Longest. Week. Ever.
A broken leg so bad you can't look at it. A coach acting so outrageously you can't stop looking at it. A referee boss allegedly putting out a $5K bounty on a coach, then trying to say it was a joke.
College hoops was all that anyone could talk about this week, and yet it wasn't the teams or the Final Four games that were being talked about.
Thankfully, after all that hoopla, the games are here. There's a Cinderella team still alive, Wichita State, making its second trip to the Final Four and first in 65 years — facing an inspired top-seeded Louisville team (Follow it LIVE!) with one goal: #winforware, in honor of injured guard Kevin Ware. And there are mighty Syracuse and Michigan teams making triumphant returns to the Final Four, with one heading to the title game after tonight's showdown.
Kevin Ware's in the house in Atlanta. The sophomore guard, who played his high school ball here, said he's doing well and has 8 to 12 weeks on crutches, then begins his rehab.
The fans are out in full force and showing lots of love for Ware. Check out more great shots from the Final Four.
Are the Cards already missing Ware? Wichita State wingman Cleanthony Early has the game's first five points as the Shockers score the first eight, giving the Cards their biggest deficit of the tournament. But Cards come back with nine straight as Shockers go almost four minutes without a point.
Early throws down fast-break dunk for first highlight-reel play of the game. Louisville goes almost five minutes without a bucket.
The fans certainly are on their game:
Phil Jackson is watching and analyzing ("I like the aggressive play by both teams..mistakes are going to be the key to who wins the game.") and having a Final Four party with some familiar friends. He tweeted a pic that will make Lakers fans feel sentimental:
The Zen Master is even dropping some knowledge. Can't wait 'til he starts tweeting books for each of us to read.
How many people know what a wheat shock really is? @krambis when I was a kid I helped my uncle bring in the harvest-he used a threasher.— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) April 6, 2013
first you had to cut the grain and put in in a shock and then transport it to the threasher. the combine did all the jobs at one time.— Phil Jackson (@PhilJackson11) April 6, 2013
CLOCK STRIKING MIDNIGHT ON CINDERELLA?
The ninth-seeded Wichita State Shockers have played second fiddle to FGCU in the Cinderella category, but with the Eagles bowing out in the Sweet 16, the Shockers have the underdog bandwagon all to themselves.
They need all the support they can get against the top-seeded Cards. Can they pull off another stunner? Here are three reasons why they will ... and three why they won't.
Besides the motivation to win for Ware (how much will they miss him?), Louisville has a nasty full-court press that Coach Rick Pitino developed alongside Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim almost 40 years ago. And if the Cards reach Monday's championship game, Pitino could be crowned a champion and made a Hall of Famer on the same day.
What's the key ingredient to the Cards' success? It's not that defense, FOXSports.com's Reid Forgrave writes, it's ... love.
CAN MICHIGAN SOLVE SYRACUSE'S ZONE?
Louisville isn't the only team with tough-as-nails defense. Syracuse has stymied teams with its zone, and now a Michigan team with a ton of weapons will try to shoot it apart. (How do you beat it? Coaches weigh in)
Can the Wolverines stop Syracuse? Here are three reasons they will ... and three they won't.
Is this Michigan team better than the Fab Five? We break it down.
GOT ALL THE ANSWERS?
Then take our Final Four quiz, and see just how much you really know.
IF YOU MISSED IT ...
The week was dominated by Ware's recovery from the most gruesome injury ever suffered at the NCAA Tournament, and the Rutgers scandal that led to the firing of Coach Rice and the resignation of AD Tim Pernetti.
Jason Whitlock wrote that this was another example of how NCAA power corrupts. Meanwhile, Pac-12 ref boss Ed Rush also resigned after a report that he offered a $5,000 bounty to anyone who gave Arizona coach Sean Miller a technical or ejected him.
While Rutgers went through hell, Ware had a much more comfortable spotlight, even chatting with David Letterman and doing the Top 10 List.
Ware also got a new puppy, appropriately named Scar: