NCAA Tournament 2013 Bracket: Why Chalk Will Hold on Sunday in Elite Eight
If there was one word to describe this year's NCAA tournament, it wouldn't be chalk. With No. 4 Syracuse and No. 9 Wichita State already advancing to the Final Four, March Madness has lived up to its name.
But on Sunday, a bit of chalk will finally hold, as Louisville and Florida will advance as the higher seeds in the Midwest and South regions, topping Duke and Michigan, respectively.
Louisville is the lone No. 1 seed remaining in the tournament, and the Cardinals have been excellent late in the season, winning 13 straight. While Oregon gave them a fight in the Sweet 16, the Cardinals have looked like the top seed in the tournament thus far.
Against Duke, Louisville will need to draw on its many strengths (defense, depth, and Russ Smith, averaging 27 points per game in the tourney) if it hopes to advance past the talented Blue Devils, fresh off an impressive 71-61 win over Michigan State.
Ignore the fact that Duke won 76-71 when these two teams faced off on November 24—this is a much different Louisville team than the November version. And remember, Louisville's Gorgui Dieng did not play in that game.
Louisville is just too stacked across the board to lose again to Duke. The Cardinals have the advantage in the paint and should take advantage of forced turnovers and win the transition battle, unlike when the teams met earlier in the season.
This game has all the makings of a tournament classic, however. If you only watch one sporting event on Sunday, this is the game to see.
Then again, Florida versus Michigan promises to be a lot of fun, too.
Trey Burke's three-point shot from somewhere in Mexico to send Friday's game against Kansas into overtime was the moment of the tournament thus far, and the Wolverines have talent in spades and are exhilarating to watch when they get going.
Still, Florida might be just the team to contain Burke and slow the Wolverines down. The Gators are an experienced bunch making their third straight appearance in the Elite Eight, and have the perimeter defenders to frustrate Burke and his teammates.
Plus, Florida is one of the nation's most efficient teams on both ends of the floor and gets balanced scoring, with five players averaging nine points or more per game.
A few things play in Michigan's favor, of course. It's unlikely that Florida's pressing, pressure defense will trouble Burke too much, and Florida is 0-6 in games decided by single digits (Michigan is 9-6 in games decided by single digits).
Plus, if Michigan gets hot from beyond the arc, there may not be a team in the nation that can keep up.
Which teams will win on Sunday?
But the Gators lack few weaknesses themselves, and while the Wolverines have more pure talent, Florida comes into this game with more experience and the sting of consecutive Elite Eight departures fresh on the mind.
And that's why I like chalk on Sunday. While the tournament has been full of countless surprises and brackets being torn up all around the country, on Sunday the favored teams will actually win for a change.
Well, I think they will, at least. This year, who really knows?
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