After one of the best Sweet 16s in recent memory—which saw one Cinderella Story end and another continue—Saturday marks the start of eight teams looking to make it to the Final Four in Atlanta.
Only one No. 1 seed remains in the 2013 NCAA tournament. Does Louisville have enough to bounce Duke and make it to back-to-back Final Fours?
Can a No. 9 seed in Wichita St. shock the world and make it to the Final Four?
Sit back, enjoy your Easter weekend and check out my Final Four predictions.
East: No. 4 Syracuse
Following an 11-point win over No. 1 Indiana that saw Syracuse block 10 shots, the Orange will be advancing to the Final Four over No. 3 Marquette.
While the Orange have seen excellent offensive production from Michael-Carter Williams and C.J. Fair, I think it's Syracuse's defense that will shine against the Golden Eagles. The Orange limited the Hoosiers to just 33-percent shooting from the field in the Sweet 16 and an even worse 3-for-15 (20 percent) from downtown.
The key for Syracuse will be to contain Vander Blue, who erupted for 29 points against Butler and 14 vs. Miami—both games in which he shot better than 58 percent.
The Orange are holding their opponents to an impressive 48 points per game, which is what will ultimately make the difference in this matchup. The Orange should have the advantage both defensively and on the glass, which is why I like them here.
Look for Syracuse to avenge the Feb. 25th loss to Marquette by bouncing it from the 2013 NCAA tourney.
West: No. 2 Ohio State
Two consecutive buzzer-beating wins have the Ohio State Buckeyes in prime position to make back-to-back trips to the Final Four.
Throughout their tournament run, the Buckeyes have shown the ability to hit clutch shots in the game's biggest moments, which is essentially what this tournament is all about. From Aaron Craft against Iowa St. to LaQuinton Ross over Arizona, OSU is the definition of a clutch team.
In their matchup against No. 9 Wichita St., Ohio State should be focused on stopping Cleanthony Early and Malcolm Armstead, who have been instrumental in the Shockers' Cinderella-like run throughout the tournament.
Craft is going to play a huge role for the Buckeyes against Wichita St. by using his stout defense and playmaking abilities to contain Armstead and find open teammates, but Deshaun Thomas will provide the bulk of the scoring and rebounding for OSU.
Not having met a powerhouse squad like the Buckeyes in the tournament yet, the Shockers' improbable run through the tourney ends when they meet Ohio State in the Elite Eight.
Midwest: No. 1 Louisville
I think it's safe to say that Louisville has been the clear cut best overall team in the 2013 NCAA tournament.
The Cardinals are locks to advance to the Final Four, as they're allowing just 57 points per game to their opponents during the tournament and are sporting an average margin of victory of more than 21 points per contest.
While a matchup with the always dangerous Duke Blue Devils is no easy task, Russ Smith has been an absolute beast for Louisville during the tournament, averaging 27 points per game. If Duke—and mainly Seth Curry—aren't hitting their threes, the Blue Devils will be in for a long day.
I think Louisville has the edge on the boards and has better ball movement and defense than Duke, which is why I like the Cardinals to make it consecutive trips to the Final Four.
As long as Gorgui Dieng can contain Mason Plumlee as much as possible, Duke is getting bounced and Louisville is moving on.
South: No. 4 Michigan
After edging out No. 1-seeded Kansas in the Sweet 16, the Michigan Wolverines have been battle tested and will come out on top against No. 3 Florida.
Trey Burke's clutch performance against the Jayhawks proved that the Wolverines can come from behind and win close games while freshman Mitch McGary's interior presence has provided a real lift for Michigan in the tournament.
When you add Glenn Robinson III and Tim Hardaway Jr. into the mix, Michigan becomes incredibly tough to handle with its ability to score and shoot efficiently from the field.
The Gators won't be able to force easy turnovers like they did against Florida Gulf Coast and Mike Rosario & Co. will have to shoot better to beat this Michigan team. Florida shot just 39 percent against FGCU on Friday night but was bailed out by careless turnovers from the Eagles.
If Michigan plays a complete game like its been, it'll advance to its first Final Four since 1993.
For a complete preview of this matchup, click here.
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