And then there were six.
The Syracuse Orange and Wichita State Shockers both booked their places in the Final Four with wins Saturday in the Elite Eight. Wichita State will be playing the winner of the Louisville Cardinals vs. Duke Blue Devils game on Sunday, with the Orange taking on either the Florida Gators or Michigan Wolverines.
Had it not been for Dunk City, the Shockers' Final Four run would get the kind of attention it deserves. Now they've ensured the country will start to take notice.
Here is a quick recap of Saturday's action, with predictions for how remaining two games in the Elite Eight will finish.
Syracuse Orange 55, Marquette Golden Eagles 39
Marquette had absolutely no answer for Syracuse's vaunted zone defense. When the Orange are playing this well defensively, it's hard seeing any team beating them.
The Golden Eagles didn't have a strong offense with which to rely on, and it showed by them only scoring 39 points for the game. As a team, Marquette shot only 12-of-53, including 3-of-24 from three-point range. Its starters only made five field goals in total, three of which came from Vander Blue.
On the other side, Syracuse's offense wasn't much better, but it didn't matter considering how much the Orange smothered their opponents. James Southerland was the game's leading scorer, with 16 points.
With the win, the Orange are going to their first Final Four since winning the national title in 2003.
Wichita State Shockers 70, Ohio State Buckeyes 66
Unlike the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, the Shockers are still alive in the tournament. They are going to their first Final Four since 1965 after upending the No. 2 Buckeyes.
Ohio State couldn't recover from a first half in which it shot only 8-of-33 from the field. The Buckeyes made a late run, but Wichita State had just enough to keep their opponents out of striking distance. Aaron Craft had a very poor game, only going 2-of-12 from the field and scoring nine points. Deshaun Thomas found himself in foul trouble, and that affected his offense throughout.
Malcolm Armstead stepped up big late in the game, hitting key shots to stifle any comeback attempt from Ohio State. Cleanthony Early also played well, scoring 12 points and recording seven rebounds.
Florida Gators vs. Michigan Wolverines
Michigan will struggle to deal with a strong Gators defense. Florida is only surrendering 53.7 points a game. The team managed to shackle Florida Gulf Coast in the Sweet 16.
The Wolverines made the Elite Eight after a late run, culminating with Trey Burke's game-tying three-pointer with 4.2 seconds left. Michigan went on to win the game in overtime. They deserve credit for coming back, but Michigan benefited from Kansas losing the plot in the dying stages of the game.
Burke was invisible in the first half, failing to make a field goal. He can't have that kind of performance against Florida.
Although Florida can have a hard time finding offense, its defense will be the difference in this one.
Florida 73, Michigan 64
Louisville Cardinals vs. Duke Blue Devils
No team has looked stronger than Louisville. The Cardinals took what have been one of the hottest teams in the tournament—the Oregon Ducks—and took them out of the game early.
Duke did very well against Michigan State in their win, beating the Spartans with a physical and deliberate performance. It was a game for the basketball romantics out there.
This game will come down to Gorgui Dieng vs. Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly. It also comes down to Peyton Siva and Russ Smith vs. Seth Curry and Quinn Cook. Dieng should neutralize Plumlee and Kelly, so that leaves it up to the guards.
Smith has been the best individual player in the tourney. It's hard to see the Blue Devils finding an answer for him. Siva has been underwhelming up to this point, but he also gets the slight edge over Cook.
Louisville 79, Duke 74
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