NCAA Tournament: Previewing Part Two of the Elite Eight
Two teams have already punched their tickets to Atlanta. Another pair of schools will join them, with the second double header of the Elite Eight taking place today. Here’s a look at what to watch for on Easter Sunday.
2:20pm – CBS – #4 Michigan vs. #3 Florida
Michigan’s season looked like it was coming to an end on Friday evening, trailing by 10 points to Kansas with just over two minutes left on the clock. Glenn Robinson III and Trey Burke (who made the eventual game tying three) turned the game around for the Wolverines by scoring 12 of their final 14 points in regulation, to extend their game against the Jayhawks in to overtime. Both underclassmen carried their squad once again in overtime completing a stunning comeback for Michigan. It also gave Kansas another early NCAA Tournament exit in the Bill Self era. The Wolverines haven’t advanced to the Final Four since 1993, back when Chris Webber last suited up for the Fab Five.
Their young lineup of four underclassmen came through in the clutch against a veteran Kansas team with four seniors in their starting five. Michigan will now face an experienced Florida team that is playing in their third consecutive Elite Eight. The Gators struggled at the beginning of their Sweet Sixteen matchup with Florida Gulf Coast, trailing 17-6 after 10 minutes of play, but dominated the next 30 minutes of action with a 56-33 scoring margin. Florida missed out on the Final Four heartbreaking losses in the previous two tournaments (74-71 in overtime against Butler in 2011, 72-68 to Louisville last year). Those deep runs give the Gators experience that the Wolverines don’t have, but the same was all said about Jeff Withey and Kansas earlier this week.
5:05pm – CBS – #2 Duke vs. #1 Louisville
Rick Pitino and Mike Krzyzewski are two of the most distinguished coaches in the history college basketball. Both are once again chasing a national title in March and looking to add another benchmark to their legacies.
Pitino would become the fifth coach with seven Final Four appearances in his career, if Louisville can get past Duke. The Cardinals have been on a tear over the last seven weeks, winning 13 in a row and all but two of those victories were by double digits. Russ Smith has increased his scoring total in every game so far in the NCAA Tournament, dropping 31 against Oregon in the Sweet Sixteen.
Another appearance in the final weekend of the NCAA Tournament, would put Krzyzewksi in a tie with John Wooden for the most Final Four appearances by a head coach (12). Winning another national title would give him a fifth championship ring, moving him ahead of Adolph Rupp for second place all-time. Like the Cardinals, the Blue Devils haven’t been challenged much in the NCAA Tournament. Duke dominated a Michigan State squad that played great defense throughout the season. Seth Curry scored 29 points and made six shots from beyond the arc against the Spartans. He and Russ Smith will be a key matchup to watch in the backcourt.
The winner of this game will add another achievement to one of the game’s blue blood programs. Also, with Louisville set to join the ACC in 2014, these teams will be seeing a lot more of each other in the near future.