29 March 2014

2014 NCAA Tournament: Elite Eight Predictions

(AP)
Only eight teams remain standing in the NCAA Tournament and boy should it be a doozy this weekend. You've got the top overall seed (Florida) taking on the biggest surprise of the tournament (Dayton). Only one region with a one vs. two matchup (Arizona vs. Wisconsin). A team that has upset two championship favorites (Kentucky) taking on a team that came damn close to blowing their Sweet Sixteen matchup (Michigan). And you have also gotten your classic four vs. seven showdown (Michigan State vs. Connecticut). Need I say more?

Who will advance to the Final Four? Here are my Elite Eight predictions.

Saturday, March 29th
#1 Florida vs. #11 Dayton - South - TBS, 6:09
Nobody foresaw the Flyers getting to the Elite Eight, nobody. If you say you did, you are lying. But you have to give credit where credit is due to this club, they have been excellent all tournament and impressively took down another surprising Sweet Sixteen team in Stanford. Their offense has been very good, they have shot the ball well, and they have shown they are not afraid of anybody. However, they are a terrible matchup with Florida and their Cinderella run will come to a halt. The physical defensive presence of the Gators will shut down Dayton's perimeter action and they will said to the Final Four.
Pick: Florida

#1 Arizona vs. #2 Wisconsin - West - TBS, 8:49
Arizona trailed for much of their contest on Thursday with San Diego State but they showed why they are one of the favorites to win it all in how they rallied their offense to get the buckets they needed down the stretch to get the win. Nick Johnson did not even score a field goal until late in the second half, but he finished with 15 points while Aaron Gordon, who also put up 15 along with six boards and a pair of blocks, helped keep the Wildcats offense together in the first half. Now Wisconsin can score with anybody in the country, but I do not think they can play the bruising style that Arizona forces every team they play to play, and I think Arizona will win.
Pick: Arizona

Sunday, March 30th
#4 Michigan State vs. #7 UConn - East - CBS, 2:20
The only Sweet Sixteen game that was not all that competitive relatively speaking was the Huskies smoking Iowa State on Friday night. And while their guard play with Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright was strong as always, they also got a tremendous performance from one of their big guys in DeAndre Daniels, who put up 27 and 10. But if the Huskies want to get back to the Final Four for the first time since winning the tournament in 2011, they are going to need more performances like that from their frontcourt against a team in Michigan State who are stronger down low. That is namely, although not entirely, due to Adreian Payne, who has been awesome all tournament long and was once again against Virginia on Friday. I do not think UConn has an answer for him, and they will suffer as a result.
Pick: UConn

#2 Michigan vs. #8 Kentucky - Midwest - CBS, 5:05
As I mentioned in the open, Michigan came pretty damn close to blowing their game last night against Tennessee, doing all they can to give the Vols more chances and allowed them to win it late before a bang-bang charge call proved to be the winner for the Wolverines. Now I think will how well their offense has been executing this tournament, they can absolutely advance to the Final Four, but I think they will fall to Kentucky. It has taken several months for the Wildcats to finally look like the preseason top ranking they had, but after dispatching Wichita State and rallying to take out Louisville, I may have been converted into a believer in this team. Give me Kentucky.
Pick: Kentucky

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