As eight gives way to four, the title picture of the Big Dance continues to take shape.
Florida and Wisconsin advanced to the Final Four on Saturday night with impressive wins worthy of championship-bound teams, but four teams have yet to enter the fray of the Elite Eight to round out the bracket.
Here is a look at the Elite Eight Day 2 Schedule, followed by the Final Four picture thus far and some advice for bettors who hope to make some coin on Sunday.
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|Region||Game||Time (ET)||TV||Predicted Winner|
|Midwest||Michigan vs. Kentucky (-2)||5:05 p.m.||CBS||Kentucky|
|East||UConn vs. Michigan State (-5.5)||2:20 p.m.||CBS||Michigan State|
NCAA. Odds via Vegas Insider.
Note: Odds info courtesy of Vegas Insider.
|4/5/14||Florida vs. Michigan State/UConn|
|4/5/14||Wisconsin vs. Michigan/Kentucky|
Michigan vs. Kentucky (-2)
Don't do a double take at the line—Vegas has it right once again.
ESPN Radio's RJ Bell put it best:
Vegas again tells Committee it's wrong: #8 seed Kentucky favored by 2 over #2 seed Michigan.— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) March 29, 2014
With all due respect to Michigan, Kentucky has the look of an unstoppable force now that the freshman-heavy team has grown up before fans' eyes and developed the mental edge necessary to win it all.
While it would be a drastic mistake to discredit Michigan, most would prefer the Wolverines over Tennessee, the team they beat in the Sweet 16. CBS Sports' Gregg Doyel is one such person:
Which team wins?
Michigan is hot, as Nik Stauskas and Co. hit on 55 percent of their long-range attempts to down Tennessee on Friday. But at some point that number will dip, and Kentucky has a defense that can aid in that endeavor.
To live and die by the three is dangerous—especially against a team like Kentucky. Julius Randle is a monster down low who averages a double-double and can help to set the tempo of the game. The Wildcats are simply more athletic and will take advantage of individual matchups to great success. Bet wisely.
Prediction: Kentucky 65, Michigan 60
UConn vs. Michigan State (-5.5)
Vegas is a little less surprising here.
Now that the Michigan State Spartans are healthy, it's hard to name a better team. Meanwhile, Connecticut has been quite the shock to some, although it should come as no surprise that a team with elite point guard play—in this case from Shabazz Napier—has made it this far.
It also helps the Huskies are led by an elite coach in Kevin Ollie, who has the utmost respect of Michigan State legend Tom Izzo, as captured by Gillian Van Stratt of MLive.com:
"Jim Calhoun told me what an incredible coach he was going to be," Izzo said. "I talked to some of my NBA friends about him and the same words kept coming up -- hard working and classy guy."
Which team wins?
Unfortunately for Ollie, his great run will come to an end on Sunday. The Spartans got Branden Dawson back from injury and have since made short work of all opposition the bracket had to offer. Michigan State rarely lost with him in the lineup during the regular season and just knocked off No. 1 Virginia in large part thanks to his 24 points and 10 rebounds.
The Huskies don't have the size or talent to compete with the Spartans on the boards and will succumb to Michigan State's tempo and be unable to counter. It's a risky over play, but free throws near the end will make brave bettors very happy.
Prediction: Michigan State 68, UConn 61