Have they played their best basketball all season? No. Are they playing their best basketball right now? Yes. That’s what matters the most, plus the fact that they’re playing in the toughest section of the bracket. Getting out of that section of the bracket alive will take more than the other three members of the Final Four combined, so they will be the most tested. Plus, once they get that far they will be able to taste it. Taking home the trophy last year is great incentive to do everything they can to retain it.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here is how I see the Elite 8 playing out…
1 Florida vs. 2 Kansas – The matchup a lot of fans want, and the matchup I think they’ll get. These are the top two teams in this section of the bracket. In fact, it’s the one section I think the selection committee got right, although some grumbled about Kansas being seeded so high. They will meet in the Elite 8 and Kansas will show that they can handle the pressure of Florida’s defensive front. With or without Embiid, the Jayhawks have what it takes to beat Florida, which is what they’ll do to punch their ticket to the Final Four.
1 Arizona vs. 3 Creighton – Arizona had a chance to really lock down the top overall seed, but they gave it away by losing too many games down the stretch. This one is high-powered offense against high-powered defense, and while defense might be good to have, my money is on the offensive surge from a Creighton team that scores a lot of points. They pull the upset to read the Final Four.
1 Virginia vs. 2 Villanova – Sticking to form to get the two of these teams to this all-important game, but I don’t see Villanova making the mistakes that cost them down the stretch in that Seton Hall game. Again, they only had that one bad loss, and they will use this tournament to put it in the rear view, and take down Virginia in route to another Final Four.
2 Michigan vs. 4 Louisville – Switch those seeds, and maybe I would agree with you. As it is, Louisville is playing a superior type of basketball to anything Michigan has put up lately. Rick Pitino will have more than enough time to strategize about this game and get his team fired up for it. Louisville wins by at least 5.
Which gives us our Final Four of 2 Kansas, 3 Creighton, 2 Villanova, and 4 Louisville. Both Final Four contests will be hard fought and come down to the wire, but when the dust settles Kansas and Louisville will square off in the National Championship game, with Louisville coming out the victor, for back to back championships. I think it will take a really strong coach with experience to win it, and both Pitino and Self have the resume. We’ll see if it all hashes out that way in a few weeks. Until then, good luck with your own picks!
And remember to get them in by noon tomorrow.
The Fantasy Ace