Sunday's Elite 8 Winners
March 30, 2013
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The finals of the Midwest and South regions are set and they feature four big name schools that won't lack fan support. Louisville, Michigan, Florida and Duke all have a shot at making the Final Four and for basketball fans in general it's a shame they have to play one another now. Sunday's action will be spectacular across the board but let's take a look at who will bring home the money.
Michigan (+2.5) vs. Florida (-2.5); Total set at 131
The Wolverines used a last-second three ball to get their game with Kansas into OT and took over from there. Guard Trey Burke was the star for Michigan and he'll be relying on heavily again in this matchup with the Gators. The youth and relative inexperience that I thought would be a negative for Michigan against Kansas turned out to work very well for them and it may just be that these guys are too young to feel the pressure. They were involved in huge games all year in Big 10 play so the big stage has become common place now for Michigan.
But the Gators are no strangers to the big stage and showed their dominance over FGCU last night. It's Florida's defense that people always seem to overlook but they put it on full display last night. They held the Eagles to only 50 points in a defensive effort that was spectacular. Look for the Gators to do something similar to Michigan on Sunday afternoon as they turn up the heat with their press and force Michigan's guards to make some tough decisions. Burke and company have proven they can handle those situations but I think they still come up short against arguably the 2nd best team left in the tournament.
Duke (+3.5) vs. Louisville (-3.5); Total set at 137
In the loaded bracket that was the Midwest, we still end up with a #1 vs. #2 game which tells you just how good Duke and Louisville are. Both teams are always built to win with coaches like Coach K and Rick Pitino and the two grand chess-masters will duel again here.
There are so many strengths on both sides here that I think the side is set exactly where it should be. This game isn't likely to be a blowout (unless one team has a God-awful shooting night) and I expect the winning margin to be in the 2-to-6 point range. That makes the side an easy pass here.
But in terms of the total, I think this number is set a little too high given the fact that neither coach especially wants to get into a run-and-gun game. Defensive pressure and efficiency have been a trademark of these two coaches their entire career and I think we will see that in this one. Louisville will pressure Duke's ball handlers all evening and Duke's big men in the paint will alter shots and clean up the glass.
With a Final Four berth on the line, both teams will rely on their defense to get them there in a 67-65 type game.
Take the under.