NCAA Tournament 2013: Predicting Final Four Teams After Third-Round Results

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2013

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 24:  Head coach Billy Donovan talks to Scottie Wilbekin #5 of the Florida Gators in the second half against the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at The Frank Erwin Center on March 24, 2013 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Suffice it to say, predicting the results of the NCAA tournament has gotten a little easier.

The number of teams alive has shrunk considerably from its field of 68 just a week ago. Now, only 16 are left standing.

Always known for its unpredictability, the tournament provided one massive surprise in the form of Florida Gulf Coast. Never before had a No. 15 seed reached the Sweet 16. On the strength of two major upsets, the Eagles have only two games between them and the most improbable Final Four run ever.

Even with the magic of Florida Gulf Coast, it's hard to see them making it through to even the Elite Eight. The Florida Gators have absolutely suffocated their opponents this season and won't be taking the Eagles lightly.

The four teams listed below have a much greater chance of representing their regions in the Final Four.


Midwest Region: Duke Blue Devils

With Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee, the Duke Blue Devils have the personnel to neutralize Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix of the Michigan State Spartans. Then it becomes a battle of the guards, where Duke would get an advantage with its trio of Seth Curry, Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon.

After that would be a matchup with the top-seeded Louisville Cardinals or the buzzsaw that is the Oregon Ducks. Both are very good teams, but Duke has enough to get by them.

It wasn't pretty, but the Blue Devils got the job done against Doug McDermott and the Creighton Bluejays. The fact Duke won but played far from its best should worry opponents.

The team has yet to hit its stride but won both of its games by double digits. That should be considered quite an accomplishment considering how many of the top teams have struggled already.


South Region: Florida Gators

The aforementioned Gators should be able to end the run of what has been the biggest Cinderella in history.

Then it would be down to stopping either the Michigan Wolverines or Kansas Jayhawks. Of the two, Kansas presents the trickiest matchup because of Jeff Withey. He was dominant in the Jayhawks' win over the North Carolina Tar Heels.

If he doesn't get support from Travis Releford or the slumping Ben McLemore, though, Withey won't be able to carry his team past a stingy Gators team.

Should Florida get the Wolverines, it should be able to handcuff the combination of Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr.

Kenny Boynton's shot selection continues to be a concern, but one that won't derail Florida's Final Four bid.


West Region: Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State's path to the Final Four has gotten unquestionably easier.

Arizona will be tough opponents. The Wildcats have looked very strong in their past two wins. Should the Buckeyes win that game, they'd be looking at either Wichita State or La Salle. The Explorers and Shockers both have quality, but the draw could have been far worse.

The Buckeyes weren't a high-tempo team during the regular season. But when it had to, Ohio State put on its track shoes and quickened the pace. That versatility will serve well for the rest of the tourney.

It might not be pretty, but the Buckeyes will be able to get it done on the strength of Deshaun Thomas' scoring and Aaron Craft's all-around effort on both sides of the court.


East Region: Indiana Hoosiers

Despite having the toughest road on paper—the top four seeds all advanced in the East—Indiana should be able to find itself in the Final Four.

One problem right now is the Hoosiers' three-point shooting. Coming into the tournament, they were one of the best in the country. In the tournament, however, Indiana has shot 13-of-26 in its first two games. It can get away with that against inferior teams, but similar performances will prove much more crippling.

There still might not be a better team left in the tournament than the Hoosiers. They have Victor Oladipo—one of the best perimeter players in the country—and Cody Zeller—one of the best post players in the country.


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