NCAA Basketball: Early Elite 8 Predictions

Thad NovakCorrespondent IFebruary 5, 2012

The college basketball season is just over a month away from Selection Sunday, and the top teams in the nation are separating themselves from the rest of the pack.

No matter how well the regular season goes for the big-conference powerhouses, though, it’s all but a lock that some of the highest-profile, highest-seeded teams will fall in the early rounds of the NCAA tournament.

One outstanding squad that could be particularly vulnerable to a bad matchup is the Duke Blue Devils.

For all Duke’s impressive talent, its losses this season have been primarily a result of a defense that’s utterly vanished for whole games at a time, meaning that one meeting with a hot three-point shooter or two could send Coach K home unusually early.

Of course, the odds are good that more than one heavy favorite will fall by time the Sweet 16 is over. Accounting for the certainty of some upsets along the way, here’s one projection for how the nation’s final eight teams might shake out in March.

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