The field for the Elite Eight is set, and there are some mouth-watering matchups.
Although the tournament is a little less exciting without the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, fans are treated to the best teams in the country facing off. There's even a mid-major thrown in as well.
The run of Wichita State has been lost in the magic of the Eagles, but make no mistake, the Shockers are for real. And they're just one game from the Final Four.
You've also got two major powers in the Duke Blue Devils and Louisville Cardinals facing off. Seeing two Big East schools playing against each other this deep into the tournament is great as well considering the future of that conference.
There have been very few sure things in this year's Big Dance. An unpredictable regular season has been followed by what is an equally unpredictable tourney.
Here's a preview of the Elite Eight action to come, with times and viewing information for each game. In addition, there are three players who will play the biggest roles in their team's success.
When: Mar. 30 and 31
Live Stream: March Madness Live
Midwest Region: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
West Region: Staples Center, Los Angeles
South Region: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas
East Region: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Full Elite Eight Schedule
*Note: All times and channels are courtesy of ESPN.com and game times are subject to change.
|Date||Matchup||Time (p.m. ET)||TV|
|Mar. 30||No. 3 Marquette vs. No. 4 Syracuse||4:30||CBS|
|Mar. 30||No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 9 Wichita State||7:05||CBS|
|Mar. 31||No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 2 Duke ||2:20||CBS|
|Mar. 31||No. 3 Florida vs. No. 4 Michigan ||5:05||CBS|
Biggest Stars to Watch
Russ Smith, Louisville
There may not be a better player in this tournament than Russ Smith. Unlike some other big names in the tournament, Smith is not shying away from the spotlight. He has thrived in the Big Dance and has helped Louisville look like one of the strongest teams in the tournament.
With Peyton Siva in foul trouble against the Oregon Ducks, Smith helped to pick up the slack. He finished with 31 points. The Ducks had no way of stopping the star guard. He would simply run right at the defense, and there was nothing anybody could do about it.
At this stage, it's important for Louisville to have Smith firing. The Cardinals are a strong team, but it's going to be tough to get past a team like Duke should Smith struggle to get going.
Trey Burke, Michigan
How many Wolverines fans expected Trey Burke's 35-footer to go in with 4.2 seconds to play?
After he struggled for much of the game, the Michigan star stepped up his game in the second half. It was a performance highlighted by that game-tying three-pointer. The shot itself was completely insane but illustrates the confidence Burke possesses no matter how poorly he's played.
You want your star player to always believe he can change a game. That could be a problem, though, if Burke doesn't find his stroke and misses key shots.
The problem is whether or not the Wolverines can survive another slow start from Burke should it happen again. The Kansas Jayhawks really let the game go late, and Michigan might not be so lucky next time around.
Vander Blue, Marquette
Marquette isn't a team that scores a ton of points. The Golden Eagles are only averaging 68.9 points a game. That's why it's so important for Vander Blue to continue playing as strongly as he has so far in the tournament.
In Marquette's three wins, Blue has scored a total of 59 points.
Syracuse is famed for its zone defense. The Orange suffocated the Indiana Hoosiers in their last game, which is quite an accomplishment considering the potency of Indiana's offense.
Breaking that zone will be a tough task for the Golden Eagles. In order to do so, Blue will have to slash to the bucket and knock down some three-pointers.
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