Saturday Elite 8 Schedule
2 Oregon Ducks - West Region - Anaheim, CA
Tip-off: 6:09pm, CBS ()
It's Buddy Hield's world. We're all just living in it.
I think many (including me) have been guilty of not giving the Ducks enough credit, for their performance all season, for their credentials as a 1-seed, for their conference's otherwise woeful tournament play. But making the Elite 8 is a strong accomplishment for this program and really reinforces just how much more respect they should have gotten.
But still, I'm not picking them. Not in this game, against this Oklahoma team, against the best player in college basketball. You just get the sense that the Buddy Hield coronation will continue on to Houston, with one of the best college basketball players in recent memory earning his rightful place in the Final Four. Dillon Brooks is good, but he's no Buddy, and I think Oklahoma's supporting cast is a bit better as well.
Prediction: Oklahoma 76, Oregon 70
2 Villanova Wildcats vs. 1 - South Region - Louisville, KY
Tip-off: 8:49pm (approximate), CBS (Jim Nantz/Grant Hill/Bill Raftery/Tracy Wolfson)
Oh, no big deal, just the two best teams in KenPom facing off for a spot in the Final Four.
The Wildcats enter this game having won their first three tournament games by an average margin of victory of 24 points. 24. They completely embraced all the noise about their March failures in recent years and have made those failures distant memories with some outrageously efficient offense (their 160 rating against a great Miami team was the nation's best offensive performance of the season) and a desire on defense, the boards, and for loose balls that I just haven't seen from anyone else.
Certainly, the Jayhawks, number one overall seed and unquestioned best team in the country, come into this one with their own 18 point average margin of victory in the tournament and having not lost since January. They are understandably the favorite, but what can I say? I think Villanova has the magic right now, and it's just their year. I know everyone wants the Big 12 rematch, but the Wildcats crash the party and give the Big East their first Final Four team since the last major conference realignment.
Prediction: Villanova 81, Kansas 77