The Final Four Has Louisville Written All Over It

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Saturday, we'll watch the Final Four. Monday, we'll watch the National Championship game. TV timeouts will rule the two nights, and we'll hear "One Shining Moment" at the conclusion. After it's over, we'll wonder why we watched what we already knew was going to happen.

Louisville will cut down the nets.

The Cardinals are the best team in college basketball. If there was doubt about that before the conference tournament, Louisville smashed Syracuse in Madison Square Garden to prove it. Then, they were awarded the number one overall seed. If there was still doubt, they handled their business relatively easily until the Elite Eight.

In the Midwest Region's final game, they lost a teammate to the most gruesome injury you could imagine on the hardwood. They led by just three at halftime, and it seemed like the wind might have left the Cardinals' sails.

Instead, Louisville came back out on the court and blew by the opponent. The opponent, you ask? A team that prides itself and its reputation on the ability to play stingy man defense. The same team that watched as Peyton Siva and Russ Smith scored layup after layup at the rack.

Duke had no answer for Louisville. Neither will Wichita State. Michigan doesn't have one either. And Syracuse knows their answer that they have kept from each opponent thus far is no secret on the court with the Cards.

The only answer we have for Louisville is: Yes.

At season's start, the Cardinals appeared to be one of the best teams in the country. They brought back much of last year's Final Four team - a team that gave eventual champion Kentucky its toughest test in the tournament. Rick Pitino seemed due for another title, with us all wondering had it really been that long since his last one? The talent was there, the depth was intimidating and they knew how to play up-and-down or slow-and-dull.

Duke beat them without their enormous center, Gorgui Dieng. Who, by the way, can sink a 14-foot jumper with regularity on one end and throw your shot off the planet on the other. The Cardinals lost three in a row in Big East play to Syracuse, Villanova and Georgetown by a combined 13 points.

The only other blemish on the résumé was a five-overtime thriller against Notre Dame. Since the loss, Louisville won 14 in a row. The last 10 came against NCAA Tournament teams. The Cards' average margin of victory over those 14 games is a tad above 17 points.

In a year that saw mediocrity dismissed as parity and vice-versa, we know who the best team is. Kansas and Gonzaga and Indiana are at home, with two of them looking like pretenders all along. The other one gave their beans to Trey Burke, as coffee is for closers.

There was one team that was not a pretender, and any way you sliced it, they looked destined for the final round. Louisville's region was tough, but they made it look easy.

After running Duke off the court by 22, all doubt should be removed. The Cardinals will cut down the nets and enjoy their win on the heels of their rivals' title. Pitino will be back on top of the basketball world. These birds will enjoy their perch as the nation's best. After all, it seemed like theirs all along if you looked closely enough.

For the other three teams in Atlanta, my heart goes out to you. I'm sure you have a puncher's chance. But after the horrific injury on Sunday, all I can offer in the form of comfort is the guarantee you won't endure as much pain as Louisville has.

Even if the Cardinals are the ones who are handing it to you.

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