#10 SYRACUSE (22-13) V.S. #1 VIRGINIA (29-7)
The Orange are coming off a thrilling 63-60 victory over Gonzaga on Friday night. Virginia easily dis-mantled Iowa State 84-71 also on Friday night. Syracuse enters the game as a 9 point underdog to the Cavaliers.
Virginia has been mightily impressive through their first 3 NCAA tournament games. Head Coach Tony Bennett has his team playing excellent team basketball and their team defense is the best of all the teams left in the field. G Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes (10.8pts, 3reb, 4.8ast) will have to find a way to get inside the Orange’s vaunted 2-3 zone and create easy shots for their teammates. Front-court players Anthony Gill (13.9pts, 6.2reb) and Mike Tobey (7.3pts, 4.4reb) will have to battle with Syracuse’s Tyler Roberson, who has been outstanding on the boards for Jim Boeheim’s club.
Syracuse came back from a double digit deficit to shock Gonzaga in the Sweet 16. Michael Gbinije will have to have another good scoring outing to give his team a chance. Roberson (9pts, 8.5reb) will have to keep up his stellar play in the front-court. It is imperative that guards Trevor Cooney (12.8pts) and Malachi Richardson (13pts, 4.2reb, 2.2ast) hit outside shots to loosen up Virginia’s defense or the Orange could be in for a long night.
Both teams are playing extremely well. While Syracuse might be a surprise to be in the Elite 8 they do have a Hall of Fame coach who knows what it takes to win in the NCAA tournament and has the 2-3 zone, which causes teams major problems when they don’t have a lot of time to prepare for it. Virginia has finally gotten past the Sweet 16 and look to be on a mission to get Head Coach Tony Bennett to his first Final 4.
The Cavaliers defense and the play of guards Brogdon and Perrantes will be too much for Syracuse. Look for a tough, physical game. Tony Bennett’s team will wear down the Orange in the second half and will be heading to the Final 4.
VIRGINIA BY 7
#6 NOTRE DAME (21-11) V.S. #1 NORTH CAROLINA (28-6)
Notre Dame is coming off another thrilling win in the NCAA tournament. This time it was the Wisconsin Badger’s who fell to Demetrius Jackson’s late game heroics. North Carolina was very impressive in its 101-86 win over Indiana. The Tarheels enter this Elite 8 match-up as 10 point favorites.
Notre Dame will need PG Demetrius Jackson and F Zach Auguste (14.3pts, 10.9reb) to have big games if they have any chance of beating North Carolina. Jackson against UNC PG Marcus Paige is a very good match-up and it is imperative Jackson outplays him. V.J. Beachem (11.9pts, 3.9reb) and Zach Vasturia 11.4pts, 2.6reb) will have to hit their outside shots in order to keep pace with the Tarheels high octane offense.
North Carolina has been on a roll throughout the first 3 rounds of the NCAA tournament. Brice Johnson is playing like an NBA first round pick and the re-emergence of PG Marcus Paige has been huge for Head Coach Roy William’s team. Paige was sensational against Indiana, scoring 21 points on 6-9 3-point shooting. All 5 of UNC’s starter’s scored at least 14 points against Indiana, showing off the teams multitude of scorer’s. Forward’s Kennedy Meeks and Justin Jackson team with Johnson to form a very talented front-court.
Notre Dame has been been a surprise entrant into the Elite 8, winning close game after close game. UNC has breezed through the tournament’s first 3 rounds and seem like they are on a mission to head to Houston and the Final 4. While the Fighting Irish ave been one of the tournament’s feel good stories, that will change after Sunday night. Roy William’s team has too much talent and overall depth on its roster and will overwhelm the Fighting Irish. After Sunday night, the North Carolina Tarheels will be heading to Houston and the Final 4, with a very good chance of cutting down the nets and winning the whole thing.
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