We have reached the Great Eight for the NCAA National Tournament. The four teams that will make up the National Semi-Finals next week in San Antonio will earn there ticket today and tomorrow. Here is what I expect in the next four games
Kansas State and Loyola (Chicago)
Game one today we have two upstarts, Kansas State out of the Big Twelve and Loyola (Chicago) out of the Missouri Valley. On the surface, one would think the major conference entry, KSU should take this one. After viewing the Wildcats in their first three games of this tournament, one can say they are a tough team that defends as well as any. They have a clutch player in Barry Brown who made the winning move in the Sweet 16 win over Kentucky. Never a day off conference games this year, Coach Bruce Webbers team will not be over-whelmed in this game and a his personal experience in the NCAA’s give the men from the Little Apple an advantage. How the Wildcats can control the pace, rough up Loyola, and out physical the Rams will be key for a win.
As for Loyola, of all the teams still in the field, they are the most skilled group. Ball fakes, shot fakes, ball movement, and finishing the play, either with a lay-up or floor shot, the Rams are trademarks. There is a reason for the three wins against superior athletic teams. There skills were much better. And that could continue with this game.
Final Analysis: Low scoring game with patience being the word here. The team that takes care of the ball against stubborn defenses will prevail. The Rams are better in their skill set and that will carry the day. Look for Loyola to make the Final Four for the second time in their history.
Loyola 69, Kansas State 68.
Michigan and Florida State
Can the Florida State defense do the trick and stop the Michigan shooters from going off like they did in their easy win over Texas A&M? I think not. This one could get ugly sooner than later and Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles, a middle of the road ACC team needs a great defensive outing to keep this one close. I like the Wolverines much in the same way as the aTm game.
Michigan 74, Florida State 64
Kansas and Duke
Both teams are playing their best ball and this will be a terrific game, close and coming down to the last minute, or shot. Duke is deeper, and they will work at pounding the Jayhawks, especially the big man for KU, Udoka Azubuike. Get him in fout trouble is a key. Duke will use their 2-3 zone defense and KU will test them with Devonte’ Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who average 40.4% and 45.5% from the field. Duke will have to limit those two in their productivity. It will not be easy. 6’11” Duke freshman forward Marvin Bagley III will be the best player on the floor and that gives them the advantage they will need.
Duke 77, Kansas 74
Texas Tech and Villanova
One would think that ‘Nova is the better team, but do not bank on it. Having won a title just two years ago with the same coach, Jay Wright, the Wildcats are primed for a second title in three years. In a quick glance, I would pick them too. But coming into Sundays game, Tech will offer a better edition of the West Virginia team that ‘Nova beat this Friday. The Jalen Brunson and Keenan Evans match up is key as both are equal in size and abilities. Tech’s Evans, a senior, should be up to the task.
Villanova 63, Texas Tech 61
We are in for a Great Eight showcase this year.