East Region: (4) Louisville vs. (7) Michigan State, CBS: The Cardinals used an explosive second half to defeat NC State, while Michigan State survived against an overrated but pretty good Oklahoma team. Even though the Spartans were a 7 seed, I was expecting them to beat the Sooners by more solely on account of momentum. Nonetheless, they’re here and ready to go to another Final Four.
If they are going to win this game, Michigan State will need to use its defense to stop Terry Rozier as well as Montrezl Harrell. That’s easier said than done, however. Both of those players are great at creating space for themselves and knocking down shots. The Spartans have had a good run to this point, but I think Louisville will be too much to handle. The Cardinals will go to the Final Four for the second time in three years.
South Region: (1) Duke vs. (2) Gonzaga, CBS: The Blue Devils used a strong all-around performance to beat Utah while Gonzaga beat up on Cinderella UCLA. This is the best Bulldogs team in a long time, as evidenced by how they lost to Arizona a few months back by only a bucket. For a team that doesn’t play in a power conference, that says a lot about their intensity. I especially like Kyle Wiltjer. He doesn’t get a lot of credit for how much he does for this team.
Nonetheless, Duke is the cream of the crop and may just be the top contender in this tournament not named Kentucky. Duke can be beat, as evidenced by how they lost two in a row to NC State and Miami at one point in the conference schedule, but they are looking really strong right now. Is Gonzaga ready to face a challenge of that magnitude, one that they haven’t dealt with all season? I don’t think so, although this one is going to come down to the wire.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Matt Weingarten