March Madness 2013 Bracket: Bold Predictions for Sunday's Elite 8 Games

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 31, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - MARCH 29:  Kenny Boynton #1 of the Florida Gators goes up against Chase Fieler #20 of the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in the second half during the South Regional Semifinal round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dallas Cowboys Stadium on March 29, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It may be going out on a limb saying this, but it looks like two teams will make it to the Final Four on Sunday.

That is by no means a bold prediction. To be fair, sticking your neck out often doesn't work during the Big Dance. That dark horse you have going to the Final Four is eliminated in the first round, while the top team you have getting upset early goes on to win the national title.

This tournament has been especially unkind, with the runs made by Wichita State and Florida Gulf Coast. There's only a handful of people across the country who accurately predicted the Shockers and Eagles both making the Sweet 16.

Despite what common sense says, here are three bold predictions for the final two Elite Eight games.


Quinn Cook Will Have a Huge Game

What has happened to Quinn Cook?

Not one of the Blue Devils' biggest stars, Cook has been absent in Duke's three tournament wins. He's gone four-of-21 from the field and scored 11 points. His poor play gave way to Tyler Thornton against Michigan State in the Sweet 16. Cook only played 21 minutes to Thornton's 26 against the Spartans.

It's less about the scoring than it is the efficiency for Cook. No one's asking him to put up 15-20 points, but Cook needs to make the shots he takes.

He'll do that against the Cardinals. Cook is a good player, and sooner or later he'll show it. In addition, he's got the opportunity to line up against Peyton Siva. Siva's struggled as well, so Cook has a very good chance of taking him out of the game.


Trey Burke Will Cost Michigan the Game

Trey Burke is Michigan's best player. Conversely, when he struggles, he can be the Wolverines' worst player. He had what may be the moment of the tournament with his game-tying three with 4.2 seconds left in the Sweet 16. If Burke had scored in the first half, Michigan wouldn't have been in a position where it would need a last-second shot to force overtime.

No matter how much he's struggling, Burke will not be shy with his shot selection. That's not a bad thing if he finds his stroke. It will cause problems should he fail to catch fire.

The Wolverines are not going to be able to recover against Florida when Burke, once again, starts slowly. The Gators are one of the best defensive teams in the country and will slowly bleed Michigan out.


Kenny Boynton Will Be the Star for Florida

One of the most frustrating constants for the Gators has been Kenny Boynton. His shot selection is often questionable, at best, and he's only making 39.2 percent of his field goals. Boynton rarely finds a shot he doesn't like.

He's yet to play up to his talent in the tournament. While the frustration level isn't high, more should be expected of Boynton.

The Wolverines aren't a strong defensive team. They're giving up 63.1 points a game and allowing their opponents to shoot 42.3 percent from the field. Michigan is there to be exploited by Boynton.

In addition, it's a team that relies heavily on strong guard play. Boynton will help to defend Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. on the perimeter and take them out of the game.


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