The Elite 8 gets underway today with four teams looking to claim the first two spots in this year’s Final Four.
SCHEDULE (All times Central)
11 Loyola vs 9 Kansas State, 5:09 PM, TBS, Atlanta, GA
Kansas State has been established as a 1.5-point favorite over the Ramblers in the first game of the Elite 8 round. Loyola has two Kansas kids on its roster who are no doubt looking forward to this matchup with K-State. Loyola has won its three NCAA Tournament games by a grand total of four points, while K-State has stifled its opponents into averaging just 60 ppg in the Tournament play. Loyola looks to make its second-ever Final Four (1963), while K-State’s drought is nearly as long (1964).
Dumb Prediction: These teams are both above average offenses paired with top-20 defenses (per KenPom). So far, K-State has been able to impose its will on everyone they’ve played in this Tournament. If the Wildcats can continue to do so, it won’t matter how much #Motivation those Kansas kids on Loyola’s roster have. Kansas State 70, Loyola 65.
9 Florida State vs 3 Michigan, 7:49 PM, TBS, Los Angeles, CA
The Wolverines enter this contest as a 4.5-point favorite over the Seminoles. Michigan is looking to make its 8th Final Four and first since 2013 (booooo) as the Wolverines exploded for 99 points in the Sweet 16 against Texas A&M. Meanwhile, Florida State has been a defensive nightmare so far in this NCAA Tournament, upsetting the 1 seed Xavier and 4 seed Gonzaga. FSU has only one previous trip to the Final Four, back in 1972.
Dumb Prediction: Both teams are in KenPom’s top-40 for adjusted offense and adjusted defense, with Michigan sporting the third-best defense in the country. If the numbers are to be believed, this game may come down to turnovers. Michigan is a top five team in terms of takeaways (steals) and, offensively, not turning it over. In contrast, FSU is merely average in those categories. I think the clock strikes midnight on this Cinderella. Michigan 80, Florida State 72.