NCAA Tournament 2015: B/R Expert Predictions, Updated Results for Elite 8

Bleacher Report College Basketball StaffFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2015

NCAA Tournament 2015: B/R Expert Predictions, Updated Results for Elite 8

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    All four spots in the NCAA tournament's Final Four have been locked up by four of the nation's best programs. 

    Wisconsin, Kentucky, Michigan State and Duke wrapped up spots in Indianapolis thanks to victories in their respective regional finals. 

    The Badgers earned the first berth with a victory in Los Angeles, while Duke finished off the terrific weekend of basketball by defeating Gonzaga. 

    Continue reading on for recaps of all four regional finals that took place over the last two days.

No. 7 Michigan State 76, No. 4 Louisville 70 (OT)

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    Tom Izzo's 13th win with a lower-seeded team in the NCAA tournament (h/t SportsCenter on Twitter) put the No. 7 seed Michigan State Spartans into the Final Four. Izzo once again worked his magic in March, as the Spartans took control of the game once the second half began. 

    Michigan State, which was down eight to the No. 4 seed Louisville Cardinals at the half, had a chance to put the game away at the end of regulation, but Marvin Clark Jr. missed a pair of shots from the charity stripe. Louisville center Mangok Mathiang forced overtime with a free throw that bounced around the rim for a few nervy seconds before falling through the net. 

    In overtime, the Spartans once again dominated the pace, outscoring Rick Pitino's Cardinals by six. 

    The win continued a remarkable streak in the Big Dance, which has seen seven consecutive lower seeds win an overtime game in the Elite Eight, per ESPN Stats & Info

    Top Performers

    Wayne Blackshear, who is ridiculed on occasion by Louisville fans for his lack of production in big games, led all scorers with 28 points. Travis Trice was one of three Spartans in double figures, as he led the Final Four-bound team with 17 points. 


    Bryn Forbes turned in an efficient day from the field, with 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting for the victorious Spartans. All four of his field goals came from beyond the arc. 

    Next Round 

    Michigan State will face the No. 1 seed Duke Blue Devils on Saturday in the Final Four. 

    Updated by Joe Tansey. 

No. 1 Duke 66, No. 2 Gonzaga 52

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    With 4:51 remaining in the Elite Eight finale at NRG Stadium in Houston, the No. 2 seed Gonzaga Bulldogs were a basket away from tying the No. 1 seed Duke Blue Devils. 

    Instead of setting up a terrific finish to the weekend, Gonzaga's Kyle Wiltjer heard footsteps and missed an easy layup on the right side of the basket. 

    Duke finished the game on a 13-1 run to send head coach Mike Krzyzewski to his 12th career Final Four appearance. 

    Justise Winslow stuck the dagger in the Bulldogs with 2:52 left in the game on a three-pointer, which extended Duke's lead to nine at that point in the game. 

    All the Bulldogs could do after the freshman made his shot was watch Duke celebrate the South Region title. 

    Top Performers

    Winslow and Matt Jones led Duke with 16 points each, while Wiltjer contributed 16 of his own in defeat for Gonzaga. Freshman guard Tyus Jones poured in 15 points for the Blue Devils. 


    Matt Jones drilled four shots from beyond the arc for Duke, which didn't receive a ton of production from Jahlil Okafor. 

    Next Round 

    Duke is set to square off with Michigan State in the first game of Saturday's Final Four slate in Indianapolis. 

    Updated by Joe Tansey

Wisconsin 85, Arizona 78

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    The top-seeded Badgers (35-3) are headed to their second straight Final Four after putting on an offensive clinic against hard-defending Arizona, shooting 79 percent in the second half while scoring 55 points in the final 20 minutes.

    It was the second year in a row Wisconsin advanced by knocking off Arizona in the West Region final, winning last season's game in overtime.

    The duo of senior Frank Kaminsky and junior Sam Dekker had 56 of Wisconsin's points, with Dekker dropping 20 of his 27 in the second half thanks to five three-pointers. The Badgers made 10-of-12 threes in the second half, several of those coming despite strong defense from the second-seeded Wildcats.

    Arizona (34-4) came into the game allowing 59.7 points per game and held a 33-30 halftime lead thanks to making 11 of its final 14 shots. But Wisconsin came out on fire to start the second half, opening with a 14-3 run with Kaminsky scoring eight.

    Dekker hit several huge threes in the second half, the most deadly coming with 17.7 seconds left to give Wisconsin an 84-76 lead.

    Top Performers

    Kaminsky had 29 points on 9-of-20 shooting, while also making 10-of-12 from the foul line. Dekker had 27 points, topping his career high of 23 set in the Sweet 16 win over North Carolina, going 8-of-11 from the field and making 5-of-6 threes.


    Both teams shot better than 55 percent, but only two of Arizona's 24 field goals were from three-point range. The Wildcats were 2-of-6 from outside, compared to 12-of-18 for Wisconsin.

    Next Round

    Wisconsin will face  Kentucky, the team it lost to in the Final Four last year, in Indianapolis next Saturday in the national semifinals.

    Updated by Brian J. Pedersen

Kentucky 68, Notre Dame 66

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    Andrew Harrison's two free throws with six seconds left kept Kentucky's perfect season alive, giving the top-seeded Wildcats (38-0) a second straight trip to the Final Four.

    In a game that had 12 ties and 19 lead changes, Notre Dame forced a shot-clock violation with 34 seconds left after Willie Cauley-Stein blocked a three-point attempt by Jerian Grant. Kentucky then held for the final shot before Harrison drove and drew a block call against Demetrius Jackson.

    Second-seeded Notre Dame (32-6) had a chance to win it, but Grant's three-pointer from the corner went over the rim.

    Notre Dame led by as many as six points in the second half, holding a 59-53 advantage with 6:10 left on a three from Steve Vasturia, but Kentucky continued to fight. The Wildcats went up 64-63 on a long three by Aaron Harrison with 3:18 left, only to see Grant drain a similarly deep three with 2:36 remaining for a 66-64 advantage.

    Karl-Anthony Towns tied the game at 66 with just over a minute left, the last of his 10 field goals.

    Top Performers

    Kentucky's Towns was unstoppable inside, scoring 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting, a game after scoring just one point in the Sweet 16 blowout of West Virginia. Notre Dame got 20 points and nine rebounds from Zach Auguste, who was 10-of-13 from the field.


    Kentucky, which shot 53.2 percent for the game, made its last nine field-goal attempts. The Wildcats' last miss from the field came with 12:16 left.

    Next Round

    Kentucky will face West Region winner Wisconsin in the Final Four on Saturday in Indianapolis. It will be a rematch of last year's national semifinal, won by Kentucky.

    Updated by Brian J. Pedersen