NCAA Tournament 2014: Predicting Which Teams Will Advance to Final Four

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NCAA Tournament 2014: Predicting Which Teams Will Advance to Final Four
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Conference tournaments are just getting underway, and Selection Sunday is right around the corner. Even though the full 68-team field has not yet been set for the NCAA tournament, the stronger teams of each quadrant of the bracket are already prevalent.

Like every year, there will be certain Cinderella teams who make a splash in the tournament by upsetting higher-ranked competitors. Other teams that managed solid runs in their respective conference tournaments will ride hot streaks into the later rounds.

However, there are a handful of teams expected to go the distance and seem indestructible at this point in the year.

Let's sort through each section of the current NCAA tournament bracket and decide which teams will advance to the coveted Final Four.

 

South (Memphis): Florida

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This may be the easiest call of the tournament. Florida has been absolutely dominant throughout the entire regular season. After going 18-0 in SEC play and currently riding an impressive 23-game winning streak, this team looks unbeatable.

Florida will have to contest with strong competition if they are to advance this deep into the tournament. Oklahoma, North Carolina, Virginia and Michigan figure to be big factors in the South.

Also, Oklahoma State and Arizona State have played well of late and could be dark horses here.

However, it's Florida that will prevail. During the team's season finale, the Gators absolutely poured it on No. 25 Kentucky, defeating the Wildcats by a score of 84-65. That kind of dominance can be expected throughout the NCAA tournament as well.

During a postgame press conference with ESPN.com, Florida head coach Billy Donovan praised what his team was able to accomplish this year:

When you invest four years likes these guys have invested, it means something to them. They're going to carry this with them for the rest of their lives. They're going to have their children and they're going to come back here and they're going to be remembered for what they've done. They've done something that's not happened here before.

This team has jelled nicely and will continue to play as a team right into the Final Four.

 

West (Anaheim): Creighton

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Creighton advancing to the Final Four could come as a bit of a surprise. After all, the West is chock full of highly talented teams such as Arizona, Wisconsin, Connecticut and San Diego State. However, it will be the Bluejays that prevail.

After two strong showings against Villanova this year, Creighton proved it has what it takes to go toe-to-toe with good clubs and come out on top. Not only did Creighton defeat the Wildcats twice, but they did it by a combined 49-point margin of victory.

The Bluejays faltered late in the season, losing two games in a row to unranked Xavier and Georgetown, but they were quickly able to right the ship, defeating Providence by a score of 88-73 to close out their season.

In that win, Doug McDermott was flawless. He scored a career-high 45 points, putting him over 3,000 points for his college career. Providence coach Ed Cooley had some high praise for McDermott during a postgame press conference with ESPN.com:

We've played in hostile environments, and it was a special night for them. Doug is one of the more electrifying players in college basketball, arguably the best player in college basketball. You're going to have days where a player is going to have a night like that. He had his on Senior Night. Congratulations to him.

McDermott, along with a deep, talented roster behind him, will continue to produce at a high level all the way into the Final Four.

 

East (New York): Louisville

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Again, we have a team ranked outside of the top two in the division to advance through to the Final Four. This time it's the Louisville Cardinals that will get it done.

The East has a great amount of star-studded units, with Villanova, Duke, Iowa State and UCLA residing here. Although, each of these teams proved to be beatable late in the season.

Louisville, on the other hand, took on four ranked teams—beating three of them—over its last five regular-season games. The Cardinals have been one of the nation's most balanced teams, finishing the regular season with the NCAA's 12th-ranked scoring offense and 19th-ranked scoring defense.

After finishing the season with an impressive 81-48 drubbing of No. 19 Connecticut, Russ Smith spoke of Louisville's growth late in the season during a press conference with ESPN.com:

It was just getting the ball to my teammates to get the ball movement going. When I looked at the film after the first UConn game, I was very sloppy with the rock. I wasn't handling the ball as well as I should have. I negated any discrepancy about turning the ball over. I just kicked it out to other teammates.

Continuing to improve and adjust this late in the year is what will propel Smith and the Cardinals to the Final Four.

 

Midwest (Indianapolis): Wichita State

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The Shockers continue their shocking ways, advancing to this year's Final Four. It won't be easy for them, as the Midwest could be the most competitive quadrant of the 2014 NCAA tournament.

Boasting high-caliber teams such as Kansas, Syracuse, Cincinnati and Ohio State, the Midwest is truly up for grabs. However, one simply can't deny Wichita State's improbable run of a perfect 34-0 record.

Some say that the Shockers have had an easy schedule over the season and haven't been tested—this is true. Although, they way they have dominated opponents throughout the year speaks volumes to how well this team plays as a unit.

After defeating Indiana State by a score of 83-69 in the finals of the MVC tournament, star forward Fred VanVleet noted that the team isn't fazed by critics during a press conference with ESPN.com:

You can debate what you want to debate. Facts are facts, truth is truth. We're not into debating how good or great we are or how bad somebody else. That's for barber shop talk and coffee table arguments. We're not into that stuff. If they feel that way, it's on them. And nobody that's arguing about it is on the selection committee.

The Shockers may have the highest level of confidence of any NCAA team after what they were able to accomplish over the course of the season. VanVleet and Co. will look to silence any and all doubters on their way to the Final Four.

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