The nets are soon to be cut down, and each team is scrapping for glory. In one of the most thrilling NCAA tournaments in history, there seems to be some sense of normalcy as we head into the Elite 8.
In a tournament full of upsets, the playing field seems to be leveling off. The lower seeds have flaked off, albeit valiantly (Pesky 9th seeded UNI was disposed of by the much more experienced Michigan State University), and the dominant 1 seeds in Duke and Kentucky have impressively claimed their spots as front runners in the competition.
*On a side note, I'd just like to remind everyone that Duke will always have a special place in my heart...the place in which all of my unadulterated rage and hate comes from.
ANYWAYS, let's break down the matchups.
No. 5 Michigan State vs No. 6 Tennessee
Let's face it, MSU is experienced and has the coaching advantage in being led by Tom Izzo. However as the tournament progresses, the loss of Kalin Lucas will prove more and more costly. Granted, reserve guard Korie Lucious has been filling the role more than satisfactorily, but the key to competing for a National Championship lies in depth, and I believe that a hungry and very athletic Tennessee squad will be able to take advantage of that aspect of the game. Look for the Vols to pull out a tough victory.
No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 2 West Virginia
In my opinion, the most intriguing and possibly the most entertaining game will be the Kentucky John Walls vs. West Virginia. I look for John Wall to take advantage of the mismatch against counterpart Joe Mazzulla. While West Virginia has shown itself to be one of the 2 seeds who actually deserved it (I'm looking at you Nova), I just believe them to be completely outmatched in this game. At the beginning of the tournament, I was convinced that Kentucky's lack of experience would ultimately be their downfall; but in a tournament full of upsets, and high seeds dropping left and right, I see Kentucky riding their pure athleticism all the way to the championship round. Kentucky wins this one big.
No. 1 Duke vs. No 3 Baylor
Now that I've given Kentucky WVU the props they deserve as being the most intriguing match up, let me move on to the game that I'll be paying most attention to. I can be fair and say that I fully expect Duke to win this game, and I'm man enough to admit that that admission fills my gut with so much agony that I'm coughing blood on the keyboard as I type. The truth is, Duke's outside shooting mixed with their slightly improved inside game makes them a dangerous team. While Baylor used consistent runs to advance against St. Mary's, they haven't seen a defensive unit like Duke's. Having said that, Baylor does have Duke beat in one category: lack of blatant homosexuality. But still, Duke wins.
No. 2 Kansas State vs. No 5 Butler
Hey, who would have thought that out of the two Kansas based programs, Kstate would be the one considered a favorite to make the final four? I'm not even going to sugar coat this: Kansas State is going to dominate this game riding the sheer aggression of Frank Martin alone. In order to stop Butler runs, Martin plans to spew regurgitated bat blood on his players. The trend will work, because even though the Bulldogs have effectively shed that "mid-major" label, and are a very talented team on both sides of the ball, I see Kansas State much like I do Kentucky in the Elite 8: far too athletic to lose this match up. However I'm not completely sold on this pick; Butler has proved round after round that it is a solid basketball team. Look for Kstate in a close one.
In closing, Duke sucks. Everyone enjoy the games!