Previewing Sunday’s Elite Eight

Duke and Villanova are in the Final Four already, two new teams will be joining them today as we have two additional Elite Eight matchups. The question that now remains is whether we get two additional blue bloods and have maybe the greatest Final Four in College Basketball history from a narrative perspective, or will we get an upset or two. Let’s dive into the matchups. 

#10 Miami vs #1 Kansas 2:20 ET on CBS

The first game of these Elite Eight games will see a Kansas team hoping to get back to the Final Four going up against the 10th-seeded Miami Hurricanes who are hoping to make their first Final Four. 

The Hurricanes have been terrific in this NCAA Tournament and have earned their spot in this game by way of upsetting USC and Auburn before beating Iowa State to get them to this game. The Hurricanes have a terrific guard group, Charlie Moore is a terrific offensive player, passer and will be hoping to get one over on Kansas after he left the program in 2019. Kam McGusty and Isaiah Wong are terrific offensive options that can create their own shots and score with ease. Add in good role players in Sam Waardenburg and Jordan Miller who are solid in the frontcourt and this team is really solid. The Hurricanes have the pieces in place to pull off an upset but they will need to have their best offensive performance of the Tournament to do so. 

Kansas will come into this game with all the pressure, but also in their best position to make a Final Four since 2018. The Jayhawks have a struggling superstar in Ochai Agbaji, who while having a bad Tournament thus far, is a First Team All-American and Big 12 Player of the year. Remy Martin has brought a renewed sense of energy, being a terrific scorer and passer after missing much time this year. Add in great wing play from Jalen Wilson, who is a rebounding machine, Christian Braun who is a great athlete and a solid big in David McCormack and this team has the pieces to win it all. 

This matchup really comes down to whether Miami’s frontcourt can create space and whether Kansas continues to be below their usual offensive self. The Hurricanes can get some open shots for Waardenburg on the perimeter because of McCormack’s inability to defend the perimeter. That said, Kansas will also get theirs on the other end, especially as they hope to break out of a little shooting slump. Look for Miami to hang around throughout this game with their ability to make shots, that said, I’m rolling with Kansas to be the tougher team down the stretch and win. 

Pick: Kansas 78 Miami 73

#15 Saint Peter’s vs #8 North Carolina 5:05 ET on CBS

This is a historical game, a team seeded 13 or below has never played an Elite Eight game, that is until now as the Peacocks of Saint Peter’s will take on a North Carolina team that is hoping to get their first-ever NCAA Tournament game against Duke. 

The Peacocks have won three games in March by way of being simply the tougher team for each of these games. Shaheen Holloway has a team that defends really tough and forces so many tough shots for their opponents, while they’ve also had some timely shot-making as well. The Peacocks have a great defender in KC Ndefo who can score inside as well, Daryl Banks has been the leading scorer in the Tournament for the Peacocks, while Doug Edert is the face of Saint Peter’s, he has made timely baskets and has done so coming off the bench. This team may be a heavy underdog in this game but we’ve seen three of those such games before and none of those three were able to knock off the Peacocks. 

The Tar Heels lost to Pittsburgh nearly a month ago, the question was whether this team could even make the NCAA Tournament since then it’s been a storybook run for North Carolina as they spoiled Coach K’s final game, and have made a run to the Elite Eight. The Tar Heels have a great guard duo of RJ Davis, who is a great lead guard, and Caleb Love fresh off going some ridiculous shot-making against UCLA. Brady Manek has been a perfect stretch-4 who has made every big shot for North Carolina when needed this season. Inside Armando Bacot has been great at interior scoring and rebounding, including the two biggest rebounds to help lift North Carolina to a win. This team is going to try to run Saint Peter’s out of the gym, they will run and gun, get open shots and look to play a different style of game as the Peacocks have played thus far. 

The Peacocks’ only way to win this game is by slowing the tempo to a grinding halt, making each possession matter to a greater extent and keeping the Tar Heels out of transition. Even still, they will have to make timely shots and tough shots to win as well and if they do that, they could make the Final Four. That said, I think the Peacocks’ time is up, they’ve played terrifically to this point but at some point, the Peacocks will run out of gas, miss their tough shots, and their opponent will have a good offensive game. I am predicting that to be the case in this instance as North Carolina will win comfortably and run away with a win. 

Pick: North Carolina 76 Saint Peter’s 62

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