NCAA Tournament 2013: Teams That Are Elite Eight Locks
This time of the year is often highlighted by March Madness upsets and bracket busters, but we're flipping the script here.
"Lock" isn't a word I usually throw around when it comes to sports predictions, but when it comes to these three teams in the 2013 NCAA tournament, I feel pretty confident in their chances of making it to the Elite Eight.
Here are three squads poised to make it to the Elite Eight.
No. 3 Florida
The Gators will probably have to go through No. 2 Georgetown to reach the Elite Eight and I think that happens.
Despite losing to Ole Miss in the SEC tournament, Florida has proven its worth as one of the nation's best squads, going 26-7, including 14-4 in the conference.
The Gators sport the eighth-best field goal percentage (.484) in the country and are led by big man Erik Murphy, who's shooting better than 45 percent from three-point range this season.
Florida owns the ninth-best RPI in college basketball this season and battled against a strength of schedule that ranked 16th.
Although they were just 1-2 against competition that ranked in the Top 25 RPI, the Gators are 8-4 in their last 12 games and own a scoring margin of nearly 18 points, which ranks second in the nation to Gonzaga's 18.2.
No. 2 Miami (FL)
Ranking fourth in RPI this season, the Hurricanes have been one of college basketball's most pleasant surprises during the 2012-13 campaign, going 27-6.
Miami is 5-2 against RPI top 25 teams this season—highlighted by wins against Duke and Michigan State—and are 10-3 away from home.
Shane Larkin has been a huge contributor for the Hurricanes on both sides of the ball, averaging 14.6 points per game and 4.4 assists per game to go with two steals per game.
Miami is 9-3 in its last 12 games and is riding a four-game winning streak, including a 10-point win over UNC to clinch the ACC title.
Assuming the Hurricanes get past Pacific in the second round, they'll likely have to go through either Butler or Marquette to advance to the Elite Eight, which shouldn't be a problem for Jim Larranaga's squad.
No. 1 Louisville
It's not a bold selection by any means, but Louisville will be in the Elite Eight and may very well be playing in the national championship game on April 8.
Aside from going 29-5 and ranking third in RPI, the Cardinals boast the fourth-best scoring margin (15.6) in the nation and own a winning record against RPI top 25 teams.
The combination of Russ Smith and Peyton Siva has been too much for opponents this season, as the two are each scoring in double figures, averaging at least three assists per game and posting two steals per contest.
Louisville enters the NCAA tournament winners of 10 straight and has a favorable schedule en route to the Elite Eight, with the only real threats standing in the way being Oklahoma State or Saint Louis.
As my personal selection to win the 2013 national championship, Louisville rides into the Elite Eight with ease.
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