24 March 2012

2012 Elite Eight Predictions

The field of 68 has been whittled down all the way to eight. The winners of the four remaining games will head on down to the Big Easy and the Final Four at the Superdome. Who will win the four regional finals and survive and advance to New Orleans? Here are my picks for the Elite Eight.

TV Schedule

March 24:
West Regional Final: (7) Florida vs. (4) Louisville
As you are going to here countless times, this is the battle of student (Billy Donovan) versus mentor (Rick Pitino). Both of these teams have gone on really impressive runs to get to the Elite Eight with a shot at getting to New Orleans. Louisville has done it with tremendous defense, most notably on Thursday night as they held Michigan State to only 44 points. An offensive explosion has done the job for the Gators, particularly from long-range as Florida is the best team in college hoops at shooting the three. Louisville defense well but Florida scores well. Florida can't defend but Louisville can't score. I like the offensive talent of Florida to light it up from the outside to advance to the Final Four.
Pick: Florida

East Regional Final: (2) Ohio State vs. (1) Syracuse
Even after many folks jumped off the bandwagon of the Orange following the ineligibility of Fab Melo, including myself, Cuse has survived UNC Asheville, smoked Kansas State and barely got by Wisconsin to get here. The Buckeyes have also played really well, particularly against in-state rival Cincinnati on Thursday, to get to within one win of New Orleans. This is where I think the loss of Melo catches up to Syracuse here as their rebounding woes will get them as Jared Sullinger will have a big outing.
Pick: Ohio State

March 25:
South Regional Final: (3) Baylor vs. (1) Kentucky
It has not been very pretty for the Bears of Baylor this tournament, save for a relatively easy win over Colorado, as the arguably most inconsistent team in this remaining field have utilized their athleticism and some clutch shooting from the perimeter to get to the Elight Eight. But while I think they can hang with the Wildcats for a little bit thanks to their athleticism, I just cannot see anybody beating Kentucky right now as they have been firing on all cylinders. Look at Friday night's game against Indiana. The Hoosiers played a really good game, about as good as they can play, as they put up 90 points...and still lost by 12.
Pick: Kentucky

Midwest Regional Final: (2) Kansas vs. (1) North Carolina
There is no question what the loss of Kendall Marshall meant to the Tar Heels on Friday night in their overtime survival of Ohio. Harrison Barnes was terrible and even as Tyler Zeller was awesome (20 points and 22 boards), UNC still struggled to get him the ball down low. Kansas has not made it easy on themselves as they started off sleepy in their last two games and then somehow getting their act together. A lot of folks are going with Kansas here but I'm feeling North Carolina and here is why. The Tar Heels have gotten gashed at times from distance, particularly last night, but Kansas is not a good shooting team. I think Roy Williams will focus the offense rightfully on Zeller, who will carry UNC to the Final Four.
Pick: North Carolina

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