By Josh Wiggins
PSDC March Madness Contributor
The Sweet 16 has come and gone, and we are jumping right into the Elite Eight. The field has grown even tighter, with the just one team that did not earn a No. 4 seed or better. Look forward to a slate of highly-competitive basketball this weekend, with almost no potential outcome being a true shock, outside of maybe Kentucky losing. With that said, here is a breakdown of Elite Eight.
1 Kentucky vs 3 Notre Dame
Despite being seeded as a No. 3, many have considered this deep of a run for Notre Dame to be improbable at best. However, their most recent victory against Wichita State showed just how dangerous this team can be. They may not be flashy, but when they are on, the Irish offense can be tough to stop. In the second half of that game, they shot an insane 75 percent from the field.
The problem is that achieving those same results two games in a row is difficult by itself, and nearly impossible against Kentucky. The Wildcats been dominating this tournament thus far and it will take Notre Dame’s best to even slow them down.
1 Wisconsin vs 2 Arizona
This could very well be the best game of the Elite Eight. Many considered Arizona to be the second-best team in this tournament at the outset, and they have held up their end of the bargain. These two met up in the round of eight last year with the seeds flipped, Wisconsin came out on top. Expect another close battle this year, with both teams boasting good size and offensive firepower.
Despite being the No. 2 here, Arizona is actually favored over Wisconsin. This isn’t especially surprising, and neither outcome would really surprise me in this one. Personally, I find it hard to go against Kaminsky and Dekker in this one, and I expect their experience and leadership to make an impact
4 Louisville vs 7 Michigan State
At this point, this matchup features the two biggest “underdogs” left in the tournament, if you could call them that. They may be the worst seeded teams left, but don’t let that influence your perception of this game.
The bigger matchup here feels like Pitino vs Izzo. These are two of the best coaches in college basketball, and the fact that they got their teams this deep in the tourney proves that. Despite losing one of his best players to legal trouble, Pitino has really gotten the most out of this team. Tom Izzo has continued to do the same, taking a mid-seeded Spartan team and beating both a No. 2 and a No. 3 to get here. Both runs have been impressive, but I like Izzo and Michigan State to keep rolling.
Prediction: Michigan State
1 Duke vs 2 Gonzaga
Coming in as the top two seeds in the South, both Duke and Gonzaga have proven they deserved the high ranking from the beginning. Now, it will be exciting to see them square off against one another, facing equal competition for the first time all tournament.
Both of these teams are great. Gonzaga brings a balanced style to the court that can be tough to completely slow down, and they are capable of putting up a lot of points. Duke has one of the most talented and deepest rosters in the tournament, capped off with Jahlil Okafor. I would take Gonzaga against most opponents at this point, but Duke just seems a little bit better.
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