Is it too late to fill out a bracket?
With only eight teams left in the NCAA tournament, your chances of accurately predicting the Final Four are demonstrably higher than they would have been a few weeks ago. Now's the time to get print out that bracket and determine the winners. How wrong could you possibly be?
Of course, don't be surprised when all of your picks go up in flames, for that is the cruelty of the Big Dance.
In an effort to help you along in your new-found quest to predict the winner of the NCAA tournament, here is how each of the four regions will unfold.
East Region: Syracuse Orange
Syracuse looked very strong against the top-seeded Indiana Hoosiers. Stars Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller had fits the entire game against the Orange's patented zone defense. Both were off their games and it resulted in a Hoosiers loss.
The Orange meet a familiar opponent, Marquette, in the Elite Eight. It's appropriate they meet the Golden Eagles considering the future of the Big East. Fans are treated to another grinder of a game unique to the conference.
Syracuse lost the first meeting these two schools had earlier in the year, 74-71. Marquette largely prevailed on the strength of Davante Gardner's 26 points. It was the only time he eclipsed 20 points on the season, so it's unlikely he'll repeat that performance.
Vander Blue should have trouble against the zone, so the Golden Eagles will be toast the second time around.
West Region: Ohio State Buckeyes
Much of what Wichita State has done in this tournament got lost in the run of Florida Gulf Coast. The Shockers are just one win away from what would have been an unthinkable run to the Final Four. Unfortunately, they saved their toughest opponents for the Elite Eight.
The Ohio State Buckeyes have ridden their luck at times, but that could be said of even the greatest teams throughout history. They've also had two three-pointers in the dying seconds to win the game in regulations.
This is a team that has quickened the pace when necessary but always maintained its tough defense. In the Shockers, the Buckeyes are facing off against a team that is averaging less than 73 points a game.
That should play right into Ohio State's hand as it is much better when the pace of the game is slower. OSU shouldn't need any last-minute heroics in this one.
Midwest Region: Louisville Cardinals
No one is looking better in this tournament than the Louisville Cardinals. Oregon didn't quit in its Sweet 16 loss, but the Ducks were always one step behind the Cardinals. That's quite an accomplishment considering how strong Oregon had been in its last two games.
Russ Smith in particular has been great. He's more than lived up to his "Russ-diculous" nickname. The junior guard went for 31 points in the 77-69 win over the Ducks. He was irresistible at times, with Oregon having no answer for him.
It's going to be a pleasure to watch him and Seth Curry go up against one another, as either is capable of lighting up the box score.
Right now, the Cardinals are on too strong a run. The Duke Blue Devils have looked good, but they don't have enough to handle the combination of Smith and Peyton Siva.
South Region: Florida Gators
Trey Burke could very well kill the Michigan Wolverines. He's a fantastic player, but one more slow start could put the Wolverines into too deep a hole. Kansas managed to help Michigan as much as possible as the Jayhawks coughed the game away late.
The Florida Gators won't be so generous.
They are fresh off a defeat of America's favorite team—the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. The Gators clamped down and turned the lights out in Dunk City. It was a conquering performance in terms of defense. Florida forced FGCU into 19 turnovers.
Michigan will really struggle offensively against Florida. The Wolverines will see Burke once again struggle to get going early.
On the other side, the Gators will deploy a balanced team attack, much as they did against the Eagles. It won't be pretty, but Florida will be Final Four-bound.
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