And then there were eight.
The Sweet 16 delivered a mix of disappointing blowouts and instant classics, and with a spot in the Final Four now on the line, the ballyhooed matchups should only get better.
If we learned anything in the last round (and, you know, all season) it's that no one is safe. While No. 15 FGCU finally saw its Cinderella run come to an end, only one No. 1 seed remains and Wichita State is 40 minutes away from becoming just the second No. 9 seed in the Final Four.
Only eight teams remain, but the madness is intensifying at an exponential rate.
Here's a look at everything you need to know.
|Team 1||Team 2||Date||Tipoff||Watch||Venue|
|No. 4 Syracuse||No. 3 Marquette||3/30||4:30 p.m. ET||CBS||Verizon Center|
|No. 9 Wichita State||No. 2 Ohio State||3/30||7:05 p.m. ET||CBS||Staples Center|
|No. 4 Michigan||No. 3 Florida||3/31||2:20 p.m. ET||CBS||Cowboys Stadium|
|No. 2 Duke||No. 1 Louisville||3/31||5:05 p.m. ET||CBS||Lucas Oil Stadium|
Predictions and Odds (odds courtesy of Vegas Insider)
No. 4 Syracuse (-3) vs. No. 3 Marquette
First one to 40 wins?
And I'm only being slightly facetious. Syracuse and Marquette are both here on the strength of their defense.
The Orange held Montana to 34 points, beat California despite going 12 minutes without a field goal in the second half and held Indiana, the most efficient offensive team in the country, to its worst offensive game of the season.
Marquette, meanwhile, barely slipped by both Davidson and Butler, but regained America's confidence with a dominant, physical win over second-seeded Miami.
This one is going to be a grind.
While it's usually smart to take the points in this kind of matchup, Syracuse is playing too well. With their 2-3 zone working like a well-oiled machine, the Golden Eagles are going to have to hit their shots to keep things close.
Considering Buzz Williams' squad gets a minuscule 18.4 percent of its points from beyond the arc, I don't see that happening.
Syracuse 65, Marquette 57
No. 9 Wichita State vs. No 2 Ohio State (-6.5)
The scary thing about Wichita State is the diversified ways in which it has won games this tournament.
It beat Pittsburgh with its calling card: strong, physical, efficient defense. It beat Gonzaga by ripping the nets from the outside. And it went back to defense against La Salle's talented guards.
Of course, Ohio State, winners of 11 straight, are also playing decently well.
Their defense hasn't quite been up to par in the last two games, but the offense has transformed into a powerhouse during the Big Dance.
Deshaun Thomas is obviously one of the best scorers in the country, but when matchup-nightmare LaQuinton Ross is producing like he has been, the Buckeyes are incredibly difficult to stop.
With the lanky, athletic sophomore wing playing with unreal confidence, and Aaron Craft doing Aaron Craft things on defense, I can't pick against Ohio State. But Wichita State is for real. This will be closer than most think.
Ohio State 71, Wichita State 67
No. 2 Duke vs. No. 1 Louisville (-3.5)
While the Midwest was loaded with potential dream matchups, these are the two teams we wanted to see battle it out for a trip to the Final Four.
Back in November, Duke outlasted Louisville, 76-71, and a rematch stands to be considerably juicy.
While Gorgui Dieng, who missed that game, will add an important interior presence for the Cardinals, this one comes down to Russ Smith.
Russdiculous is playing at a tournament MOP level, and it's not even close. In three wins, the polarizing, electric guard is averaging 28 points per game on a ridiculous 56.3 percent shooting.
Combine Louisville's suffocating pressure defense with an efficient Smith on offense, and you have a team that won't be beat.
It's a shame this one isn't for the national championship, because the Blue Devils are the closest team to Louisville's level right now.
Louisville 78, Duke 76
No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 3 Florida (PK)
Listen, Florida is a really good team. They are a physical, balanced squad with a tournament savant at head coach. I personally picked the Gators to advance to the Final Four, and being ranked No. 1 in Ken Pomeroy's tempo-free rankings isn't what you would call a negative distinction.
But I have three words for you.
Trey "freaking" Burke.
The All-American point guard absolutely willed his Wolverines to a win over Kansas on Friday night, scoring 13 points in the final 1:16 of regulation and overtime, including the game-tying 30-foot dagger to extend the game:
Scottie Wilbekin, one of the nation's most underrated defenders, will give Burke all he can handle, but at a time when games are typically decided by guard play, there's no way I'm picking against the best in America.
Predictions are about trust, and there is no one I trust more than Trey Burke.
Michigan 70, Florida 65
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