[Photo: Chris Chambers/Getty Images]
Half way through the Sweet Sixteen round, the next set of teams awaits their fate as they quiet their nerves before tonight’s show. Eight teams will take the floor in hopes of being one of the next four to advance.
The first four to enter the Elite Eight are the Florida Gators, who unlike the Philadelphia 76ers who are now at 26 straight losses, the Gators have reached 29 straight wins! The Dayton Flyers advance to the Elite Eight for the first time in 30 years. Baylor falls apart to let Wisconsin to roll in easily, and Arizona proves what a tough team they are once again.
The East and Midwest teams will battle to stay alive and advance tonight.
First up this evening at 7:15 p.m. in the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana are Tennessee and Michigan. These two teams are quite the opposite, while Michigan relies on 3-point shooting, Tennessee penetrates the glass. Tennessee is playing great in the tournament so far, beating out UMass in the round of 64 then burying Mercer in the next. Jarnell Stokes has played better each game; the 6-foot-8 inch guard for Tennessee is searching for his fourth double-double of the NCAA tournament. Michigan guards like Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert will have to shoot extremely well. Michigan forward’s Glenn Robinson III and Jordan Morgan will have to limit Tennessee two rebounds to win.
Heading over to Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York to witness Iowa and Connecticut at 7:27 p.m. Iowa State can likely take over offensively considering they are ranked number five, scoring on average 83.2 points per game. Iowa’s DeAndre Kane, and Connecticut’s Shabazz Napier both scoring 20 plus points in their last appearance in the tournament. Kane also had 10 rebounds. Forwards Dustin Hogue and Melvin Ejim will try to conquer the paint for Iowa as well.
Next up in Indiana is probably the most anticipated game of the night; defending champion Louisville and number eight seed Kentucky go at it for the second time this season. Kentucky has the potential to win again, especially after coming off of a heart-stopping victory against undefeated Wichita State. The Harrison twins are a sight to see, Aaron scoring 19 points against Wichita while Andrew scored 20. Forward Julius Randle had a double-double last game; he has a great presence in the paint, and can get to the basket strong and efficiently. Louisville is ranked number one for a reason, although their sloppy victory over Saint Louis did not show us much, but no one ever said a win had to be pretty. Look out for Naismith College Player of the Year Nominee, Russ Smith lead the Cardinals on their road to a NCAA Championship repeat at 9:45 p.m.
To finish off the night back in New York, Virginia and Michigan State tip off at 9:57 p.m. Virginia is an all around great team they will out rebound, out hustle, and control the pace on both ends of the floor. Their number one ranked defense is impeccable, and is certainly the reason behind such success. Offensively they have equal contribution, five players in double figures in the team’s last appearance alone. Freshman London Perrantes is a player to watch for along with guard Joe Harris and forward Anthony Gill.
Michigan State is coming off an exhausting win. Ivy League Harvard gave the Spartans a run for their money in the round of 32 winning only by seven. Brandon Dawson had 26 points and Gary Harris bringing in 18. Michigan State will have to regain focus to have a fighting chance against Virginia.