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Final Four set after blowouts and another surprise

Monday - 4/1/2013, 4:36pm  ET

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino celebrates with Chane Behanan, left, and guard Russ Smith (2) after their 85-63 win over Duke in the Midwest Regional final in the NCAA college basketball tournament, Sunday, March 31, 2013, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

PAUL NEWBERRY
AP National Writer

ATLANTA (AP) -- After a season of uncertainty, there's a clear favorite heading to the Final Four.

The Louisville Cardinals.

While the other No. 1s have fallen by the wayside, the top overall seed romped to the Georgia Dome with four dominant wins in the NCAA tournament. And, if the Cardinals need any extra motivation, they've got it.

Sophomore guard Kevin Ware, who played his high school ball in the Atlanta suburbs, sustained a gruesome injury in Sunday's regional final against Duke. Before he headed off to surgery, he courageously urged his teammates to finish the job.

Now, they would like nothing more than to win it all for Ware.

"We talked about it every timeout, 'Get Kevin home,'" coach Rick Pitino said.

Next stop, the A-T-L, where three rather unlikely teams will be looking to knock off the mighty Cardinals.

First up, the surprising Shockers from Wichita State in the semifinals Saturday. The No. 9 seed has already pulled off two major upsets, but this would be the biggest stunner yet.

If Louisville makes it through to next Monday night's title game, the opponent would be either Michigan, sporting a new group of Fab Wolverines, or Syracuse, which comes at you with the stingiest zone defense in college basketball. The two No. 4 seeds will meet in the other semifinal game.

All are underdogs to the Cardinals, who are winning by an average of nearly 22 points a game in the tournament.

"I thought we had a chance there, and then boom," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who watched Louisville pull away for an 85-63 victory in the Midwest Regional final. "That's what they do to teams. They can boom you."

In the other game Sunday, Michigan captured the South Regional with a 79-59 rout of Florida, leading from the opening tip. A day earlier, Syracuse shut down Marquette 55-39 to win the East Regional, while Wichita State punched its Final Four ticket with a 70-66 upset of Ohio State out West.

In the final year of the Big East before it splits into two new conferences, Louisville and Syracuse provided a fitting send-off to a league that quickly became a basketball powerhouse after it was founded in 1979.

Before it goes, this version of the Big East has a shot at one more national title.

With two teams, no less.

The Cardinals -- who, like Syracuse, are moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference -- shook off the incredible shock of Ware's injury with about 6
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