Friday was not any more memorable than Thursday. Only one good game took place, as the other three were various forms of blowout by the higher seed. I'll quickly recap, and then break down the Elite Eight matchups and give my picks for the Final Four. Here we go!
Last night I said that #1 Louisville vs. #12 Arizona wouldn't be memorable. I was wrong. Arizona will remember it as their largest tournament loss ever. The Cardinals absolutely demolished the Wildcats. Massacre doesn't even begin to describe this one. Louisville was up 49-28 at halftime and poured it on from there. The final score was 104-63, as 'Zona was thoroughly embarrassed. Next up, #2 Oklahoma took on #3 Syracuse in a game that should have been closer than it was. It was close in the first half until the Sooners went on a run to go up 39-26. Syracuse never got close again, and fell 84-71. Blake Griffin continued his monster season, and tournament, going for 30 points and 14 rebounds. Maybe the Orange finally ran out of gas, or perhaps just didn't play well. In the late games, #2 Michigan St. faced off against #3 Kansas. This was the only compelling game of the night, and featured lead changes and comebacks. The Jayhawks were up 36-29 at halftime, but the Spartans hung around and tied it with a 1:50 left. Michigan St. then squeaked out the 67-62 victory. This win bounced the defending national champs out of the tournament. The evening's final game saw North Carolina destroy Gonzaga. Few expected a close game, and they weren't disappointed by the results. UNC led 53-42 at halftime, and used the second half to increase it. The Tar Heels eventually won in landslide fashion 98-77. Thus, the Elite Eight matchups were set. Analysis and picks are right ahead.
In the 4:40 game, #1 Connecticut takes on #3 Missouri. Both teams have looked good in the tournament. Although, Missouri's win over Memphis may be the most impressive in the tournament. Memphis allowed 102 points, the most it had all year, and Missouri looked unstoppable. It will be interesting to see if U-Conn can handle the fast pace of the Tigers. However, the Huskies have been the tournament's most dominating team so far. This one looks to be a test of which team can play better defense, and make free-throws and shots when needed. I'm going with the upset, and picking Missouri to take out U-Conn. At 7:05 #1 Pitt faces fellow Big East foe #3 Villanova. This is one of the most anticipated games of the entire tournament. Villanova beat the Panthers in the regular season, but DeJuan Blair was in foul trouble during the game. Both teams have dynamic players capable of stepping up and taking over a game. However, the Big 3 of Young, Blair, and Fields will be too much for the Wildcats. The Panthers will prevail in a close one. This one may come down to the final seconds. On Sunday, #1 Louisville will do battle with #2 Michigan St. Both teams are defensively sound and have fantastic coaches. However, after the beating Louisville inflicted on Arizona the Spartans will have a hard time getting into their game. The Cardinals will be too much, and Louisville will advance to Detroit. Finally, #1 North Carolina battles #2 Oklahoma. Everyone is already salivating over the player of the year matchup, Blake Griffin vs. Tyler Hansbrough. It will be interesting to see who gets the upper-hand, unfortunately for Oklahoma they won't in this game. UNC has too many weapons, and will return to the Final Four for the second straight season. Those are my regional representatives. Louisville from the Midwest. Missouri from the South. Pitt from the East. And North Carolina from the South. We'll see how close I get. LET'S GO PITT.