NCAA Tournament Preview: An Elite Eight Weekend
What was once 68 teams full of hopes and dreams is now down to eight; by Saturday night we'll be down to six, and by Sunday night we'll know which Final Four teams will be headed on down to Georgia next weekend.
The NCAA tournament reaches crunch time this weekend with two regional finals Saturday and two more Sunday.
To tip things off, the East Region final comes down, fittingly, to two Big East teams, as No. 3 seed Marquette battles No. 4 seed Syracuse Saturday at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC (4:30 pm ET, CBS).
Then the West Regional comes down to a heavy from the Big Ten versus a longshot from the Valley as No. 2 seed Ohio State, which made the Final Four last year, takes on No. 9 seed Wichita State at Staples Center in Los Angeles (7 pm ET, CBS).
Marquette and Syracuse, who are going their separate ways next season as the Big East breaks apart, met once earlier this year about a month ago in Milwaukee, with the Warriors coming away with a 74-71 victory. The Orange, as two-point favorites, led most of that game, but Marquette went on a 19-4 run midway through the second half then made its free throws down the stretch to ice the victory.
Sunday's action begins with the South Regional final as No. 3 seed Florida meets No. 4 seed Michigan at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington (2:20 pm ET, CBS). Then in the Midwest Regional final No. 1 seed Louisville takes on No. 2 seed Duke at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis (5 pm ET, CBS).
As of Saturday morning most books were listing the Gators, who fended off Florida Gulf Coast Friday night, as two-point favorites over the Wolverines, who pulled off an improbable comeback Friday against Kansas. And the Cardinals, who just dispatched of Oregon, were favored by three points over the Dukies who just eliminated Michigan State.
Also, on Bovada's updated NCAA championship betting board Louisville was listed as a 9/4 favorite to cut down the nets at the Georgia Dome two Mondays from now, followed by Florida at 13/4; Ohio State at 11/2; Duke, Michigan and Syracuse all at 7/1; Marquette at 12/1; and Wichita State at 18/1.