NCAA Bracket 2013: Updated Final Four Predictions for East and West Regions

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 23:  Cleanthony Early #11 of the Wichita State Shockers celebrates as he walks to the bench during the third round of the 2013 Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament at EnergySolutions Arena on March 23, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Half of the Elite Eight is set, and the teams still alive are going to make for an exciting next round of the NCAA tournament. 

The East and West regions are likely making most people rip up their brackets at this point of the tournament. No. 9 Wichita State surprised many by upsetting No. 1 Gonzaga in the third round, and the Shockers kept up the great play by defeating La Salle in the Sweet 16.

While the East went chalk after the first weekend, the top two seeds were eliminated on Thursday by Syracuse and Marquette, respectively.

This will create two highly anticipated matchups that will take place on Saturday. Here is a look at which teams will make it to the Final Four.



Follow along with Bleacher Report's live bracket. For a printable bracket, click here.


No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 9 Wichita State

On paper, this seems like it should be a blowout. However, it is time that Wichita State is taken seriously as a contender in this tournament.

The Shockers were able to utilize a great shooting day to overcome Gonzaga, hitting 14 of 28 shots from behind the arc. While this was obviously a much better day than usual, it just showed their ability to win in many ways.

Against Pittsburgh and La Salle, the squad was much more physical. Wichita State outrebounded the Explorers 44-23 and was able to get plenty of easy buckets throughout the game.

This is the formula that this team will need against Ohio State. The Buckeyes struggled in the past two games against athletic teams and barely escaped with wins against Iowa State and Arizona.

Of course, you have to give credit where it is due after Aaron Craft and LaQuinton Ross each had game-winning shots in consecutive games. These two players have been a big part of the team's success this postseason while becoming quality secondary scorers to Deshaun Thomas.

During the year, Thomas was the only player averaging double figures for the Buckeyes. However, Craft and Ross combined for 35 points against Iowa State and 30 against Arizona.

If these talented players are able to keep up this level of play on the offensive end, it will be incredibly tough for Wichita State to keep up on the scoreboard.

This game will be close due to the Shockers' physicality and the team's depth that will come in handy on short rest, but the Buckeyes simply have too much talent to stop.

Prediction: Ohio State 75, Wichita State 73


No. 3 Marquette vs. No. 4 Syracuse

The Big East really flexed its muscle on Thursday as two teams in the conference absolutely dominated their opposition.

Marquette took advantage of Reggie Johnson's absence against Miami and finished in the paint throughout the game. The ACC champs had no answer inside and the Golden Eagles made 54 percent of their shots from the floor.

Meanwhile, Syracuse also took out a regular-season conference winner in Indiana. The Hoosiers could not figure out the 2-3 zone, and they finished with 18 turnovers and a season-low 50 points scored.

Things will not be so easy for either team in the next game, as the two know each other well.

These teams faced each other in February, with Marquette coming away with a 74-71 home win. However, this was a low point for the season for Syracuse and one of their worst defensive efforts of the year.

In that game, Davante Gardner had his best performance of the year with 26 points on 7-of-7 from the floor and 12-of-13 from the free-throw line. He will need to put together a similar showing in order for Marquette to win again.

Since that matchup, however, Syracuse has only allowed more than 61 points in a game on one occasion, and that was to Louisville in the Big East championship. Baye Keita is playing stronger inside and the entire zone has tightened up to prevent opponents from getting good shots. 

Every opponent in this tournament has turned the ball over at least 17 times against this zone.

Marquette will not be able to keep up its great recent shooting against a tougher defense, and the Orange will be able to survive in a low-scoring battle.

Prediction: Syracuse 58, Marquette 52


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