Sunday's Elite Eight
March 30, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
The Final Four takes place next Saturday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, as two more spots need to be filled out on the dance card. Four big-time programs look to advance to the Peach State, as Florida takes on Michigan, while Duke battles Louisville. We'll begin in the Lone Star State with two schools that have gotten together for bowl games, but not tournament showdowns.
(3) Florida vs. (4) Michigan - 2:20 PM EST - CBS
Both the Gators and Wolverines had to rally from double-digit deficits on Friday night to advance to the Elite Eight, but both squads put together their comebacks in different ways. Florida erased an early 15-4 deficit to upstart Florida Gulf Coast en route to a 62-50 victory, but the Gators didn't cash as 14-point favorites. Meanwhile, Michigan pulled off a bit more dramatic rally to reach the round of eight.
Kansas sat two minutes away from the regional final, but the Jayhawks squandered a 10-point lead late in regulation as Trey Burke's three-pointer in the final seconds forced overtime. The Wolverines responded in the extra session by capping off a 33-17 run in a 12-minute span to upend the Jayhawks, 87-85 to cash as 1 ½-point underdogs. Burke put the Wolverines on his back by scoring 13 points in a 5 ½-minute stretch, giving Michigan its first Elite Eight appearance since 1994.
The Gators covered in their first two tournament games in victories over Northwestern State and Minnesota, while Billy Donovan's team failed to knock down some key free throws in the final seconds in the non-cover against Florida Gulf Coast. Florida fell to 6-11 ATS the last 17 games, but eight of those ATS defeats came as 'chalk' of 10 points or more. As a favorite of single-digits, the Gators own a mediocre 3-4 ATS record, including outright losses away from Gainesville against Kentucky, Missouri, and Arizona.
Michigan closed the regular season with a 1-9 ATS record in the final 10 games, but John Beilein's club has cashed four of five postseason contests (including the Big 10 tournament). The Wolverines are just 2-2 ATS this season when receiving points, as the Maize and Blue did lose outright at Indiana and Ohio State as underdogs. Michigan has trended towards the 'over' in the 'dog role, cashing three times in four opportunities.
Florida is listed at 2 ½-point favorites, while the total is set at 131.
(1) Louisville vs. (2) Duke - 5:05 PM EST - CBS
The only top-seed left in the tournament is Louisville, who plays with revenge after losing to Duke in the Bahamas back in November. The Cardinals won their 13th straight game following Friday's 77-69 Sweet 16 triumph over Oregon, but Louisville couldn't close for backers as 11-point favorites. Rick Pitino's squad led by 14 points at the half, as the Ducks grabbed a backdoor cover with a layup in the final 30 seconds.
Seth Curry lifted Duke's offense to a Sweet 16 triumph over Michigan State on Friday, 71-61 as two-point favorites. Curry scored a game-high 29 points, including six three-pointers, while the Blue Devils knocked down 24-of-26 free throws to ice the victory. The game barely finished 'under' the total of 132 ½, in spite of Duke hitting all eight free throws in the final two minutes.
The Blue Devils held off the Cardinals as 1-point underdogs at the Battle 4 Atlantis during Thanksgiving weekend, 76-71. Duke shot just 5-of-20 from three-point range, including a 2-of-9 effort from Curry. Louisville rallied from an eight-point deficit to make things interesting, but Quinn Cook scored the final eight points for Duke to hand the Cardinals their first loss of the season.
Since the start of February, Mike Kryzyewski's team has covered consecutive games four times. However, the Blue Devils were unable to cash in the third opportunity, including outright losses to Virginia and Maryland. Duke enters this situation off back-to-back ATS wins over Creighton and Michigan State.
During this 13-game hot streak, the Cardinals have drilled the 'over' in eight consecutive contests, while posting a 9-1 ATS record in the last 10 victories. This is the third time the Cardinals are playing with revenge this season, as the Big East champions won and covered against Syracuse and Notre Dame after losing to those teams earlier in the campaign.
Louisville is listed as 3 ½-point favorites, while the total is set at 137.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.
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