Time to finalize the Elite 8; who ya got?
Note: We will have our usual separate open thread for the KU game.
SCHEDULE (All times Central)
5 Clemson vs 1 Kansas, 6:07 PM, CBS, Omaha, NE
The Jayhawks are the five-point favorites here, and are looking to make their third straight trip to the Elite 8. Clemson, meanwhile, is looking for just its second ever trip to the Elite 8 (1980).
Dumb Prediction: Kansas should have a huge advantage inside, and if the KU guards can fluster the Clemson guards, look for KU to try to get out and run. It’s a classic battle of offense versus defense, and for the most part in this tournament, it’s been the teams that can score who have advanced. Kansas 74, Clemson 68.
5 West Virginia vs 1 Villanova, 6:27 PM, TBS, Boston, MA
Villanoa comes in at the five-point favorite in this one, as the Wildcats look to make their second Elite 8 in the past three years. West Virginia’s defense will look to slow down the Villanova guards with their full court pressure as the Mountaineers seek their first Elite 8 run since 2010.
Dumb Prediction: Both teams are top-10 offenses per KenPom, with Villanova have a top-20 defense compared to West Virginia’s top-40 offense. I know that past results may not be indicative of future performance, but I just have a feeling that West Virginia is gonna blow a 15-point second half lead. Villanova 80, West Virgina 74.
11 Syracuse vs 2 Duke, 8:37 PM, CBS, Omaha, NE
The largest point spread of the Sweet 16 is right here, with Duke favored by 11.5 over Syracuse. The Orange were in the Elite 8 as recently as 2016, while Duke’s last trip was in 2015.
Dumb Prediction: Duke is a KP top-10 team in both offense and defense, while Syracuse has rolled with their top-5 defense to get them this far. Once again, I’ll go with the team that has the ability to score in this one, as it just so happens that Duke can play a bit of defense on their own. Duke 80, Syracuse 64.
3 Texas Tech vs 2 Purdue, 8:57 PM, TBS, Boston, MA
The final Elite 8 berth has the potential to be one of the best games of the tournament. Purdue enters the night as a two-point favorite over Texas Tech, as the Boilermakers look for just their fifth-ever trip to the Elite 8, and first since 2000. Tech, meanwhile, has never advanced past the Sweet 16; can senior Keenan Evans lead Tech where no Red Raider has gone before?
Dumb Prediction: Another case of offense vs defense. Purdue comes in with the #2 offense and #28 defense against Tech’s #48 offense and #4 defense. The Boilers are missing one of their big guys, Isaac Haas, but freshman Matt Haarms has stepped up in this tournament, not necessarily with scoring, but with defense and rebounding. I’m not sure Tech can match Purdue’s size down low, and the other question is if Tech’s guards keep up with Purdue. Purdue 77, Texas Tech 70.