Elite Eight picks and analysis

March 27th, 2010
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Our budding bracketologists go beyond the call.

Sean Eyman:

Michigan State over Tennessee.  Tom Izzo has the Spartans poised and rolling.  They’ve been there before.  Five Final Fours with a chance for their 6th.  All I keep hearing from the Volunteers is how this is the farthest they have ever come.  I’ll take the team that has been there and done that.  Michigan St in the Midwest.

Kansas State over Butler.  Butler hasn’t lost this calendar year.  It’s been a helluva run by the Bulldogs,  but it stops here.  A Kansas team will be in the Final 4, it’s just not the one everybody expected.

Duke vs. Baylor is the elite 8 game I am looking forward to the most.  Duke has squashed every opponent so far.  Baylor destroyed St. Mary’s yesterday.  Duke’s 40-8 as a number 1 seed.  And have reached the Final Four in 5 out of 11 times playing as a number 1.  I’m going with Duke in the South.  But wouldn’t be shocked in the least if Baylor pulled rank and danced on through to the Final Four.

The Big East Blues will continue as the Wildcats will dispatch of Huggy Bear and his crew to reach the Final Four.  Kentucky will March on out of the South!

Matt Furuto:

In the round of 16, I was hot the first day, and way cold the second.  Hopefully, I’ll do better as we head to the Final Four…
Kansas State is well known (and deservedly so) for their backcourt duo of Clemente and Pullen.  But, their inside game is way underrated, and this will prove the difference against Butler.  The Bulldogs’ dream of becoming the first true “home” team to play in a Final 4 will end prematurely.
In a game which I don’t think will live up to the hype, Kentucky will run past West Virginia.  Bryant’s season ending injury will be evident here, as the Wildcats will turnover the Mountaineers, and the end result will be a quick 2, via the dunk or layup.
In another Midwest nailbiter, I got Tennessee over Michigan State.  Izzo has done another masterful job with this year’s squad, but they’re just too banged up.  Tennessee seems to be getting hot at the right time, and will head on to Indy.
Baylor the de facto home team playing in Houston will prove too athletic for Duke.  In the tournament, backcourt usually rules the day, and the Bears duo of Carter and Dunn is hot, and should be able to trump Duke’s Scheyer and Smith.

Jet Wong

Kentucky/WVU – Kentucky pulls it out here. WVU committed way too many turnovers against Washington and right now, they have no point guard with Bryant out for the year. Mazzulla, Butler and Ebanks will have to carry that load again because if they turn the ball over 20 times, there’s no chance you stay with Kentucky with their speed and athleticism especially down low with Patterson, Orton and Cousins. Kentuckyt thrives themselves in the transition and if they can force the turnovers and run the ball, they’re very hard to stop. If this is going to be a tight game and I like to think it will be, Kentucky can’t hit free throws…only 60% during the tourney while WVU is hovering near 80%.

Butler/Kansas State – Will Kansas State have the energy after that double overtime game on Thursday to pull out another win? Butler’s a good defensive team. The have to contain K-State’s 2 guard combo of Pullen and Clemente, both of whom played well and came through in the clutch on Thursday. K-State’s big men of Sutton, Samuels and Kelly should be able to work their way inside against a very good Butler defense. Also, Kansas State is one of the top teams in the nation as far as committing fouls goes. Alot of their guys were in foul trouble all game on Thursday and if they don’t stay out of foul trouble, Butler has a shot here. But, K-State will eke this one out.

Michigan State/Tennessee – I’m teetering on a side right now. Michigan State’s defense stepped it up big time without Lucas and held N. Iowa without a field goal for the last 10 minutes of the game. But they’re fighting the injury bug as well with Roe and Morgan playing with injuries as well. Lucious has stepped up as the floor general of this team and hit a clutch shot late to ensure Michigan State’s win. Tennessee played very well against Ohio State with clutch shots and tough D to keep them in the game and pull out a victory at the buzzer. They’re long and athletic with Chism, Williams and Prince down low. I think Michigan State will find a way out of this one. Izzo’s a veteran coach in this spot and I’m sure he’s got something planned.

Duke/Baylor – Baylor totally BLEW St. Mary’s out the door. That game was over quickly. Baylor has a slight home court advantage here playing in Houston near their campus so I’m sure there will be alot of Baylor fans in the stands on Sunday. They play a great 2-3 zone which Duke will have to exploit and in the years I’ve watched Duke play, they have done exactly that. Sure, some teams play better zone defenses than others but Duke always finds a way to break that zone. Baylor’s tough inside with Udoh and Acy but Duke has been monsters on the board with Zoubek, Thomas and the Plumlee brothers (outrebounded Purdue by 20). It was also nice to see Scheyer snap out of his slump and score some key points. If Duke can exploit the zone defense, cut down their turnovers, grab those rebounds and convert 2nd chance points, and knock down their perimeter shots (and they HAVE to do that)….punch their ticket to Indy. Unlike previous years, they’re not living off the 3 point shot but they will hit their share to pull out a victory.

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