Viewers' Guide: Elite 8 Match-ups Saturday and Sunday
Just 23 days ago, Breitbart Sports reviewed the 295 teams still alive for the National title, and 12 days ago we did an in depth alphabetical review on the chances of the 68 teams that were left. The ratings system worked again; 11 teams had a tournament rating of 35 or higher and six of them made the Elite 8, while only two of the 57 who had a rating of 34 or lower are still alive. Those two are Marquette, which emerged as the favorite in the lower East bracket with no team above 25, and the one true shocker in Wichita State. This weekend's Elite 8 schedule is below.
|4:30 PM Sat
|7:05 PM Sat
|2:20 PM Sun
|5:05 PM Sun
Syracuse was our second highest rated team, and used a home court advantage to help them get past favorite Indiana in Washington. Even when they play Georgetown in road games here, there are plenty of Syracuse fans in the stands. Michael Carter-Williams (ranked as the fourth best player in the Elite 8 in our new rankings) runs the show for a team that lost a close one at Marquette late in the season when the crowd was against them. While Marquette's 25-rating is next to last, they played in the lower East bracket that had noone higher, and when Miami was short a man for their match-up, Breitbart Sports correctly predicting Marquette would emerge to the Elite 8. Vander Blue and Jamil Wilson have emerged as the best two all-around players for MU that certainly have them higher than their current (27th and 28th ranking), but for the season Marquette's top-ranked player was 290-pound Davante Gardner, who torched Syracuse for 26 points while taking only seven shots and drawing numerous fouls in the first match-up.
Deshaun Thomas and Aaron Craft made Ohio State the team with two Top 10 players to start the season, and we had them picked to make the Elite 8. Wichita State has none of the Top 20 Value Add players this weekend, so they do go in as perhaps the biggest underdogs in their game Saturday. They pulled a big opening round win against Pitt, and then defeated Gonzaga, before getting an easier third round game against upset winner LaSalle. They will need to keep the ball away from the best perimeter defender in the game in Craft to pull off the upset.
Michigan will be a slight underdog (39-35 rating) against Florida just as they were against Kansas (38-35), but both of Sunday's games feature match-ups of teams that were in the elite category of 35 or higher. Burke walked away with Breitbart Sports Player of the Year, and the last player to accomplish a 20 point, 10 assist game to get a team to the Elite 8 before Burke was the opposing coach - Billy Donovan. Florida has five of the 20 best players still playing, but Donovan had to sit his top Value Add player (Erik Murphy) when he was cold early in the match-up against Florida Gulf Coast, so we will see if he tweaks the line-up. We had Florida in the Elite 8, with Michigan as a very slight underdog behind Kansas.
At the beginning of the tournament we noted that Duke was the third best team in tournament, but unfortunately was in the bracket with the best team. With Indiana out, this could be the national championship, and will be a fitting end to this weekend's play. Duke won the first outing, but with Gorgui Dieng out with a broken write. If Dieng had not missed those games, he would certainly rank even higher than 10th on today's Value Add list. If legendary NBC Sports commentator Al McGuire was right and it takes three stars to win the national title, then these are your two teams with the best shot. They both of three of the top 11 players left in the tournament, with the other five top players divided up among the other six teams. Quinn Cook and Seth Curry bringing it up against Russ Smith and Peyton Siva is an unbelievable match-up, and to go from that to Dieng and Plumlee battling underneath is the classic matchup of the tournament. The winner of this game will be the clear favorite to emerge with the title in Atlanta next weekend.