Pick ‘Em: The Elite Eight

The 2018 NCAA Tournament is marching on to the Elite Eight this weekend. We’ve seen a lot of upsets and games coming down to the finals seconds this tournament. Here are predictions for this round and a few key players.

The first game will match up eleventh seed Loyola-Chicago Ramblers and ninth seed Kansas State Wildcats. The Ramblers, so far, have won each game with a last second shot, including last game against Nevada Wolf Pack. Clayton Custer has scored double digits points in each of the three games of the tournament. Junior Marques Townes is coming off scoring 18 points against the Wolf Pack and also made the game winning shot. For the Wildcats, they are hoping sophomore forward Xavier Sneed can duplicate his last game’s performance when he put up 22 points with five three pointers made. With the final score being 68-62, Loyola-Chicago should move on and continue the dream as they go to the Final Four.

The next game will take place in the West Region between the Michigan Wolverines and the Florida State Seminoles. Florida State will look for Terance Mann to lead the way against Michigan as he is coming off an 18 point game against the Gonzaga Bulldogs last round. The Seminoles are in the Elite Eight for the first time since 1993 and with a chance to get to the Final Four for the first time since 1972. Michigan will look to keep up their momentum as they’re coming off a 27-point win against the Texas A&M Aggies. Michigan hopes their balanced attack offense can propel them to the next round as they had five players score double digits in points as Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman led the way with 24 points last round. The Seminoles will have trouble slowing down the Wolverines offense as Michigan will advance 86-72.

The third game will come from the Midwest Region as number one seed the Kansas Jayhawks will take on the two seed in the Duke Blue Devils. Kansas defeated the Clemson Tigers 80-76 by using sharp shooting as they made 10 three pointers.The Jayhawks were led by guard Malik Newman, 17 points, and Udoka Azubuike, 14 points and 11 rebounds, to give them an inside-outside attack. Kansas will look to keep it rolling with that same approach to get back to the Final Four. Duke was able to avoid a scar and hang on to beat the Syracuse Orange Men 68-65. Duke was led by freshman Marvin Bagley III with 22 points. Duke will look to do the same against Kansas as they forced 15 turnovers on defense against Syracuse.On offense, the Blue Devils will depend on their front court offense to win. Duke should prevail 77-74.

The final game will be in the East Region as the Villanova Wildcats will be playing Texas Tech Red Raiders. Villanova defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers, 90-78, to advance to get to this point. Villanova will look to stay hot from beyond the arch where they shot 52 percent last round. Look for the Wildcats offense to be a balanced attack as last round Jalen Brunson was one of four players to have double digit points with 27. The Red Raiders will look to keep their momentum going after defeating the Purdue Boilmakers. Tech was led by Keenan Evans with 16 points. The Red Raiders will try to slow down the Wildcats with pressure defense as they were able to force 17 turnovers against Purdue. Evans will look to stay hot for Texas Tech as he’s averaging 20.3 points per game this tournament. Villanova should win 88-77.

In each game, both teams appear to be evenly matched with good coaching to go with the stellar play. It will come down to managing turnovers, who can stay poised in pressure situations, and who wants it more. It is in those moments where the Final Four rise.

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