Syracuse advances to the Elite Eight and will take on Marquette.
The Elite Eight is set. We've now weeded out 60 of the best men's basketball teams in Division-I and are ready to eliminate four more this weekend. We've seen a little bit of everything during this year's NCAA tournament. We've seen monstrous blowouts, insane upsets and exhilarating buzzer beaters.
As the Elite Eight teams prepare for action tonight and tomorrow, we can be sure that we'll see a few more exciting conclusions. As these teams take the court in the next two days here are some Elite Eight predictions that you can take to the bank.
No. 3 Marquette vs. No. 4 Syracuse
Here's a solid Elite Eight matchup—two teams from the Big East who have played each other already this season in a very close game. On February 25 these teams faced off, and Marquette, who was rated No. 22 in the country at the time, got a huge game out of Davante Gardner on their way to a 74-71 victory over Brandon Triche and the Orange.
However, that game was then, this is now.
Syracuse has had an impressive run so far in the tournament, beating Montana by almost 50 points in their first game, followed by two more double-digit victories, including its latest 61-50 victory coming over No. 1 Indiana in the Sweet 16.
Syracuse is no team to be taken lightly, which can also be said about Marquette.
Prediction: Syracuse wins a close one, 78-71. Marquette may have beaten the Orange earlier in the year, but Triche and Carter-Williams will be too much for Marquette to handle this time around. The Orange make it to the Final Four.
No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 9 Wichita State
Unlike Marquette and Syracuse, these two haven't played each other this season and certainly aren't from the same conference. Ohio State hails from the very strong Big Ten while Wichita State is representing the Missouri Valley conference. Both teams have had impressive runs through the tourney so far, most notably Wichita's win over Gonzaga in the third round and Ohio State's big-time buzzer beaters against Iowa State and Arizona.
Wichita State has looked impressive in the tourney and have some serious players on the roster. The Shockers were in the top 25 for team rebounding throughout the season and really showed their dominance down low against the LaSalle Explorers in the Sweet 16.
Unfortunately for the Shockers, they won't be shocking the Buckeyes.
Prediction: The Buckeyes win, 84-69. Ohio State has too much talent for Wichita to handle. Craft and Thomas are too good for a Shockers team that won't make it past the Elite Eight.
No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 2 Duke
Here's another rematch in the Elite Eight. These teams met early in the season in late November. That game went to the then-No. 5 Blue Devils, who scored the 76-71 victory over the then-No. 2 Cardinals. Big games from Quinn Cook and Mason Plumlee gave the Blue Devils and Coach K that victory.
Unfortunately for Duke, that game won't help them in the Elite Eight.
Duke may have gotten the game in November, but Louisville has been on a roll through the tournament. Its offense has been spot on while their defense has been insane.
Prediction: Louisville wins, 78-70, in a game that's just out of Duke's reach in the final minutes. Louisville will knock down free throws to close it out and make it look worse than it was. Expect a big game from Russ Smith.
No. 4 Michigan vs. No. 3 Florida
Both Florida and Michigan won big games on their way to the Elite Eight. Michigan fought through South Dakota State, VCU and a ridiculous overtime thriller against Kansas while Florida ran through Northwestern State, Minnesota and everyone's favorite NCAA team, Florida Gulf Coast.
Michigan and Florida roll into the Elite Eight coming off huge victories. One knocked off a No. 1 seed, the other knocked off America's darling and one of the biggest Cinderellas in recent history.
The Wolverines and the Gators are both in the top 10 in the entire NCAA for field-goal percentage, meaning they capitalize on good looks and don't miss many open opportunities.
Prediction: Michigan wins, 70-67, after late-game heroics from Trey Burke. Burke will score a bunch and have a pile of assists to go with it. Mitch McGary will also have another big game for the Maize and Blue. Florida won't be able to stop Michigan's weapons.