If the cream truly does rise to the top then the Elite 8 is the proving ground for those teams. Is this the moment when an overconfident Kentucky gets toppled, or maybe even Duke? Perhaps we get a Cinderella team that slips through this round to make the Final Four, or Arizona doubles up on its promise and takes care of Wisconsin. There are a host of scenarios to consider, but the games themselves will take care of the story lines.
Here’s how I see the Elite 8 games going…
Duke (1) vs. Gonzaga (2) – Is Duke as good as they were in the past? The answer is no. Yes, they still have Coach K who can mask a lot of problems, but they lost in last year’s tournament to a massive underdog, and this team isn’t much better than that one. Oh, and Gonzaga isn’t a massive underdog. There’s a reason they keep making the tournament, and there’s a reason they’re a 2-seed. They’re scary good, and if they play their brand of basketball they will win this game. I think they do, and I think they will. Pick: GONZAGA.
Villanova (1) vs. Virginia (2) – This is the matchup everyone wants to see, to prove who really should be the #1 seed in the East. I think for once the committee got it right, that Villanova is the best team not just in the East but on the whole right side of the bracket. I think they will prove that by playing their best game of the season in this one, showing Virginia their full array of skills. They’re peaking at the right time, and they’re the only team in the draw who can match up with and beat Kentucky head to head when they’re on their game. Pick: VILLANOVA.
Wisconsin (1) vs. Arizona (2) – Remember when I said the cream rises to the top? This is the ultimate cream right here, and I’m excited that the committee placed these two in each others’ path to the Final Four. This is a tough rematch for Arizona because Wisconsin has seen them once and knows what they’re capable of now, and I think they’ve worked out answers for the issues that had them lose to Arizona earlier. This time it’s personal, and Wisconsin is the better team, so all things being fair, they will come out ahead. Pick: WISCONSIN.
Kentucky (1) vs. Wichita State (7) – This is the spot where I say all those good things about Wichita State. They have great guards and can match up that way with Kentucky. They have a solid defense that could keep them in this game until the very end. The problem is that Kentucky tends to step up at the end and turn a close game into a win for the top seed. Do I think the Shockers can shock the world and win this one? I think they can. I just think they won’t, due to the stalwart nature of the Wildcats. Pick: KENTUCKY.
The Fantasy Ace