Elite Eight Preview
And then there were Eight. Following some interesting games in both the Thursday and Friday Sweet Sixteen games, we are set with our Saturday and Sunday Elite Eight matchups. Duke has had quite the run of missed layups to win games, Texas Tech found their offense and played superb defense against Michigan, and Auburn is one of the hottest teams in America. Some great games to come.
1 Gonzaga v 3 Texas Tech 5:09PM CT TBS
This is a strength on strength matchup between a great offense from Gonzaga and one of the best defenses from Texas Tech. The Red Raiders allowed just 1 made 3 against Michigan and it was from a walk-on in the final minute of the blowout win. Gonzaga is fresh off an impressive win over Florida State where the front court was very impressive for the Zags. At the end of the day it comes down to Texas Tech’s defense, if the Red Raiders can slow down Gonzaga offensively and disrupt their guards, the offense can stall out.
Prediction: Gonzaga 69 Texas Tech 65
1 Virginia v 3 Purdue 7:49PM CT TBS
Virginia picked up an ugly win over Oregon and that’s what the Hoos want. Slow the game down to a grind and just make more shots than their opponent. The problem is Purdue is one of the hottest shooting teams left in the tournament. Ryan Cline had an incredible night against Tennessee and if he can be half as good, he gives the Boilermakers a legitimate 2nd option offensively. Carsen Edwards makes this team go and I’d guess Ty Jerome will get that assignment defensively. If Edwards is bothered by the smothering defense, it could be a huge problem for Purdue.
Prediction: Virginia 66 Purdue 62
2 Kentucky v 5 Auburn 1:20PM CT CBS
This game feels pretty simple to me, if Auburn continues to shoot as well as they are from 3, there is not a team in this tournament that can beat them. Kentucky needs to play the defense they played against Wofford and close out on shooters efficiently. Offensively, the Wildcats need PJ Washington to continue doing what he’s doing and get perimeter scoring from one of Keldon Johnson or Tyler Herro.
Prediction: Kentucky 81 Auburn 80
1 Duke v 2 Michigan State 4:05PM CT CBS
I’ve hit on it a few times but man oh man has Duke gotten some very fortunate bounces in their last two games. A pair of missed layups has gotten Duke to the Elite Eight, but more accurately it was a monster game from Zion Williamson against UCF and Tre Jones hitting open 3’s against Virginia Tech. Michigan State is an interesting matchup for Duke. The guards battle will be epic with Winston vs Jones. Can Michigan State’s wings keep up with Barrett and Reddish (if healthy). The status of Nick Ward is also up in the air following his early exit with a left hand or wrist injury.
Prediction: Michigan State 77 Duke 74