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Elite 8 2013: Breaking Down Biggest Keys for Success in Sunday's NCAA Action

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 24:  Tyler Thornton #3 of the Duke Blue Devils celebrates with teammates Quinn Cook #2 and Rasheed Sulaimon #14 and Thornton makes a shot at the buzzer at halftime against the Creighton Bluejays during the third round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Center on March 24, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
Dan TalintyreSenior Analyst IIMarch 31, 2013

Sunday's NCAA tournament action will feature some of the most in-form teams clash together as they seek to secure a Final Four berth in 2013.

No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region, Louisville, will take on the No. 2 seed Duke, who haven't lost since star Ryan Kelly has returned from his injury. And in the South Region, a streaking Michigan will do battle against Florida in what is shaping up as a very fast-paced game.

Both games should be brilliant matchups that will provide plenty of talking points and highlights for all four teams have the chance to win through to the Final Four.

Read on to see the biggest keys for success in Sunday's NCAA action.

 

Duke: Not Allow Careless Turnovers

Louisville has been prolific at forcing turnovers from their opponents so far in the tournament, and if the Blue Devils are going to knock off the No. 1 seed here, they'll need to limit those mistakes.

From their pressure defense at the top of the perimeter to their hustle in transition, the Cardinals have a knack of forcing bad passes or steals, and they'll look to do that again by exploiting Seth Curry and Quinn Cook throughout this one.

If that pairing can keep their mistakes low, and work the ball inside to Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly successfully, then Duke will be a real chance here.

Louisville has the best ranked defense in the country and will look to use that strength to knock off Duke here if they can. But if the Blue Devils can be patient and not try to force that unnecessary pass, then they could be in for a long night ahead.

 

Louisville: Get the Ball to Russ Smith

With their brilliant defense, the biggest question mark around Louisville (if there was one) is with their offense and their reliance on individual players.

Yet when those players are riding hot streaks like the one that Russ Smith is on, then there's little stopping the Cardinals from wanting to give him the ball as often as they can. And so they should, given the run that the star guard's currently on.

Smith has averaged 23.2 points, 3.1 assists and 2.5 steals in his last six games, with those numbers even higher when we just look at March Madness.

He is the catalyst behind their offense and the best player in the tournament so far, and as long as the Cardinals give him good looks and chances to score, they'll be a very tough team to stop en route to the Final Four this year.

 

Michigan: Establish Inside Presence

Michigan's offense will no doubt center around guards Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr., but their ability to establish a presence inside here will be key against the athletic Florida Gators.

Florida have a number of strong inside players—Patric Young and Erik Murphy the biggest threats—and they'll look to use their size and speed to dominate the Wolverines. However, if Michigan can find good looks inside on offense and set up well on defense, their big men have the athleticism and skill needed to match it with the No. 3 seed.

Mitch McGary has emerged as a surprise threat inside for the Wolverines—averaging an incredible 23 points and 14 rebounds in his last two games.

He might not seem like a go-to guy against an athletic Gators' team, but McGary has the skills to be a real threat on both offense and defense here for the Wolverines, and he could very well be the difference between the two sets of big men in this one. 

 

Florida: Shoot Well From Deep

According to KenPom (subscription required), Florida is a truly prolific three-point shooting team—getting 35 percent of their points from beyond the arc.

It might not necessarily seem that high given their depth of talent right across the court, but the Gators are phenomenal when lining up for three, and they must not negate that threat here against the Wolverines and their potential strong inside presence.

Erik Murphy is shooting around 45 percent from deep whilst Mike Rosario has also drained plenty of three-pointers in the tournament so far for Florida.

If the Gators can find good looks for those guys, and not allow Kenny Boynton to shoot them out of the game, then they're a real chance at knocking off Michigan.

As mentioned above, the Wolverines will try to establish their presence inside, which could lead to some big openings for the Gators outside the arc. And if that happens, look for Florida to take full advantage with a dominant three-point shooting performance.

 

What do you think the biggest keys for victory are for these teams?

Comment below or hit me up on Twitter:  

 

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