The 2013 NCAA tournament has been rolling along, with half of the Elite Eight field already set and the rest to be determined on Friday evening. With four awesome games on tap, you won’t want to miss a single minute of action.
We’re here to examine these thrilling contests and make some predictions as to which Sweet 16 teams will continue dancing into the next round.
Let’s take a look at each matchup and pick some winners.
Midwest Region: (1) Louisville vs. (12) Oregon: 7:15 p.m. ET on CBS
The Ducks have been one of the biggest surprises in this tourney, but their magical run will end against the Cardinals.
UL is one of the best teams in the nation and earned the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament for good reason. The combination of superstar scorer Russ Smith, elite PG Peyton Siva and athletic big man Gorgui Dieng—plus a cast of talented role players—is simply too much for most opponents to deal with.
While Oregon has seen some impressive outings from star Damyean Dotson during March Madness, the team defense won’t be able to keep up and the rest of this Ducks squad will be stifled by Louisville’s unrelenting pressure.
Pick: Louisville 72 – Oregon 60
South Region: (1) Kansas vs. (4) Michigan: 7:37 p.m. ET on TBS
The Jayhawks may be the No. 1 seed, but Michigan has arguably been the best competitor during the 2013 NCAA tournament.
Kansas struggled to knock off No. 16-seeded Western Kentucky and a severely undersized No. 8-ranked UNC program, while Michigan handled its business in the initial two rounds against South Dakota State and VCU with absolute ease.
Led by Big Ten Player of the Year Trey Burke, the Wolverines are a young and upcoming squad that is clicking at the right time.
Add Burke’s incredible scoring and facilitating abilities to a roster featuring stud swingman Glenn Robinson III, stellar shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. and a host of supporting talent, and you are looking at a recipe for March Madness success.
Pick: Michigan 74 – Kansas 71
Midwest Region: (2) Duke vs. (3) Michigan State: 9:45 p.m. ET on CBS
This is one of the toughest matchups in the tourney to predict, although it is a showdown that most amateur bracketologists saw coming after Selection Sunday.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and his up-and-coming young guns led by Gary Harris will be going against Mike Krzyzewski and his cast of superstar seniors hungry for a title before they graduate.
Sparty has been playing great during this event and Harris does have the ability to go off against anyone, but we’re giving the edge to the Blue Devils on Friday evening.
Seniors Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry are just too much for the Spartans to handle. All three are highly capable scorers that hustle on every possession and want nothing more than to win it all in 2013.
It’ll be extremely tight, but Duke wins this instant classic.
Pick: Duke 81 – Michigan State 79 (overtime)
South Region: (15) Florida Gulf Coast vs. (3) Florida: 10:07 p.m. ET
The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles have played the role of Cinderella in this tourney, surpassing all expectations and improbably becoming the first No. 15 seed to make it to the Sweet 16.
Which team will win?
However, it wasn’t luck that brought FGCU this far, but rather its incredibly skilled players, admirable work ethic, fun style of play and brilliant coaching staff. No ordinary No. 15 seed just obliterates a No. 2-seeded Georgetown squad that was predicted by some to win a title this year.
The Florida Gators will do their best to end this fairytale before it manifests itself in the Elite Eight, but may not be ready for their opponent’s high-flying, run-and-gun brand of basketball.
If the Eagles can set the pace and jump out to a hot start in the second half, they’ll soar into the next round.
Pick: FGCU 83 – Florida 77
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