Elite Eight groups in males’s March Insanity, ranked by nationwide title possibilities

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The lads’s NCAA match is yearly outlined by its unpredictability, and it has lived as much as that status as soon as once more this 12 months. The sphere misplaced a nationwide title contender on the very first day when No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s pulled off a surprising upset of the Kentucky Wildcats. The second weekend wasn’t any extra form to the favorites, with championship front-runners Arizona and Gonzaga each exiting on the identical day within the Candy 16.

Now we’re left with eight groups nonetheless standing that every consider they’ve what to it takes in the end minimize down the nets on April 11 in New Orleans.

This season has felt broad open from the beginning after final 12 months’s finalists Gonzaga and Baylor misplaced so many key items from their rosters. That feels much more true now. Earlier than the regional finals start, we ranked the eight groups remaining within the males’s NCAA match discipline by how possible they’re to win the nationwide championship.

8. No. 15 seed Saint Peter’s Peacocks

Giving Kentucky the worst lack of the John Calipari period wasn’t sufficient for Saint Peter’s. Neither was beating Murray State to change into the third No. 15 seed to achieve the Candy 16. The magic of the Peacocks confronted its largest take a look at but towards Purdue after every week of nationwide hoopla, however in some way Shaheen Holloway’s group pulled by way of as soon as once more. The Peacocks’ 67-64 win over Purdue makes them the primary No. 15 seed to ever attain the regional last of the boys’s NCAA match. The feat is much more spectacular than it sounds: no seed decrease than a No. 12 has ever been this far within the match.

Saint Peter’s run defies all logical clarification, however our Mike Rutherford did a terrific job placing the run into correct context. Daryl Banks III and Doug Edert have grown into the perimeter stars for the Peacocks. Senior massive man KC Ndefo is a three-time MAAC Defensive Participant of the 12 months. Holloway has his workforce taking part in actually impressed ball, they usually don’t appear happy but.

7. No. 2 seed Villanova Wildcats

Villanova lacks of the expertise of Jay Wright’s greatest groups this season, however the fashion of play that made his Wildcats some of the profitable packages in America during the last decade remains to be paying dividends. Nova performs extraordinarily gradual on offense, chucks a ton of threes, and shoots free throws extra precisely than any workforce within the nation. Whereas they lack an elite rim protector defensively, these Wildcats shut out exhausting on each open shooter. It’s a system that has helped Nova win 13 of their final 14 video games, and once more get them again into the Elite Eight.

Nova’s Candy 16 win over Michigan wasn’t at all times fairly. The offense went greater than 5 minutes with no bucket within the second half, and Michigan acquired loads of beauty on the rim offensively that simply didn’t go down. Nova has the potential to play higher offensively with a five-man lineup that may all dribble, cross, and threaten the protection from three-point vary. Villanova is now 19-3 during the last six NCAA tournaments. The names have modified, however that is nonetheless Villanova basketball.

6. No. 4 seed Arkansas Razorbacks

Arkansas felt like they had been neglected in a loaded SEC all season, however February wins towards convention juggernauts Auburn, Kentucky, and Tennessee confirmed the Razorbacks might compete with anybody. Now the Hogs are again within the Elite Eight for the second straight season, this time by knocking off nationwide championship favourite Gonzaga within the Candy 16. Head coach Eric Musselman has a veteran group that’s executing at an extremely excessive stage proper now. It’s honest to consider that if Arkansas can beat Gonzaga, they will beat anybody.

Sophomore heart Jaylin Williams is the glue that holds the Hogs collectively. He’s an exceptional defensive rebounder, a grasp of the flip shot, and may be counted on to take a number of prices per sport. Senior guard JD Notae may be turnover inclined, however he’s a talented halfcourt shot creator who can get a bucket in a pinch. The remainder of the Razorbacks play robust protection and do their greatest to fabricate offense with out nice shooters on the perimeter. Musselman’s workforce should proceed to grind out wins with disciplined game-plans, however it feels silly to wager towards them after watching what they did to Gonzaga.

5. No. 10 seed Miami Hurricanes

Going 14-6 within the ACC is normally sufficient to get a workforce a snug seed on Choice Sunday, however a couple of unhealthy losses and a down 12 months for the league total pushed Miami to the 10-line. The Hurricanes got here inches away from shedding on a halfcourt buzzer-beater to USC within the first spherical, however since then The U has appeared like a machine. Miami blew out Bruce Pearl and No. 2 seed Auburn within the spherical of 32, after which pulled away from Iowa State within the last 10 minutes of the Candy 16 to punch this system’s first ever ticket to the Elite Eight. Whereas it’s odd to see a double-digit seed attain the regional last, Miami’s mixture of expertise is an ideal match for March. It appears like they may maintain advancing.

The Hurricanes don’t simply have nice guards — they’ve nice guards with years of high-level faculty basketball expertise. Kameron McGusty was a sophomore at Oklahoma when Trae Younger enrolled for 2017-2018 season. Charlie Moore is in his sixth 12 months of faculty basketball and has performed within the Pac-12, Huge 12, Huge East, and now ACC. Junior guard Isaiah Wong has began 70+ video games for the Canes. Middle Sam Waardenburg is a senior, too. McGusty (27 factors) was the hero within the Candy 16, however Miami has many guys who can play that position. Provided that Kansas doesn’t have essentially the most cellular bigs to defend the pick-and-roll, the Canes really feel like they’ve a approach higher likelihood than a 10-seed usually does towards a No. 1.

4. No. 8 seed North Carolina Tar Heels

Hubert Davis’ first season in North Carolina was decidedly unremarkable by way of February. Then the Tar Heels went into Cameron Indoor Stadium for Coach Ok’s final ever dwelling sport and handed Duke a memorable loss that appeared to invigorate the workforce. UNC has been taking part in nice ball ever since: they gained their opener towards Marquette by 32 factors, knocked out No. 1 seed Baylor in extra time (after virtually blowing a 25-point second half lead), then outlasted UCLA in a Last 4 thriller. Sure, the Heels have gotten sizzling on the proper time like each workforce nonetheless standing, however that is additionally a roster that at all times had the expertise to get right here.

Caleb Love didn’t fulfill his one-and-done hype coming into Carolina, however he’s been wonderful as a sophomore. He had the very best efficiency of his profession towards the Bruins, going off for 30 factors on 6-of-13 capturing from three-point vary. Co-star Brady Manek, a 6’9 wing who transferred in from Oklahoma, provides UNC a giant shooter who can carry the offense for stretches. There’s additionally massive man Armando Bacot, who cleans the offensive glass in addition to any participant left within the match. If North Carolina and Duke each win their Elite Eight video games, the primary ever NCAA match assembly between the archrivals will occur within the Last 4. The Heels simply higher not overlook Saint Peter’s earlier than they get there.

3. No. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks

The Elite Eight threatened to characteristic zero No. 1 seeds when Windfall roared out of its first half funk and took a one-point lead over Kansas with below six minutes remaining in regulation. Jalen Wilson put the Jayhawks again in entrance two possessions later with an and-one end, and KU would by no means path once more. Kansas has appeared inevitable in a Midwest Area that at all times felt like the best on the bracket, however credit score Invoice Self’s workforce for digging deep and doing what hardly anybody has been in a position to accomplish all 12 months: beating the Friars in an in depth sport.

Kansas has been looking for extra consistency at level guard all season, and now they’ve discovered it on the good time with Remy Martin. The Arizona State switch went off for a season-high 23 factors towards Windfall, and has solidified a terrific five-man lineup. Martin’s ascension has helped the Jayhawks overcome a capturing stoop from star wing Ochai Agbaji, however the senior nonetheless made a huge impact defensively with 4 blocks and two steals. David McCormack’s shaky ball display protection can go away Kansas weak towards the best workforce, however for now the Jayhawks ought to really feel nice about being the final prime seed left standing.

2. No. 5 seed Houston Cougars

This Houston run shouldn’t be potential. The Cougars misplaced all 5 starters from final 12 months’s Last 4 workforce coming into this season. Then they misplaced arguably their two greatest gamers in Tramon Mack and Marcus Sasser to season-ending accidents earlier than the calendar flipped to 2022. Whereas Houston confronted one other spherical of questions on its cupcake non-conference schedule, head coach Kelvin Sampson once more has his squad peaking on the proper time. At this level, Houston feels just like the scariest workforce within the discipline.

The Cougars might need a No. 5 seed subsequent to their identify, however they entered the match because the second greatest workforce in America in response to KenPom’s formulation. That projection is trying useless on up to now. Houston squeezed the life out of Illinois within the spherical of 32 earlier than knocking out fashionable title choose Arizona with a suffocating protection and well timed capturing. It’s inconceivable to out-coach a Sampson workforce, and this roster is stacked with athleticism at each spot on the ground. Beating a mega-talented Arizona workforce by double-figures ought to put the remainder of the nation on discover to not take these Cougars flippantly.

1. No. 2 seed Duke Blue Devils

Duke was in a tailspin heading into the NCAA match, shedding Mike Krzyzewski’s final ever dwelling sport towards archrival North Carolina after which getting walloped within the ACC match title sport to an underdog Virginia Tech workforce. The Blue Devils at all times had the expertise to go on a future in March, however a leaky protection and inconsistent level guard play was holding them again. It could be straightforward to excuse Duke gamers for cracking below the big strain of Coach Ok’s farewell tour, however in some way they’ve risen to the event from the second the NCAA match began.

Duke trailed Michigan State by 5 factors with 5 minutes within the spherical of 32, and trailed by two towards Texas Tech with three minutes left. Each instances, sophomore level guard Jeremy Roach — who was benched a number of instances this season — helped save the Blue Devils with massive pictures within the clutch. In the meantime, freshman star Paolo Banchero is taking part in just like the No. 1 total choose within the NBA draft (we’ve had him there since July), A.J. Griffin is pulling down virtually each three, and Mark Williams is leveraging his immense 7’7 wingspan for straightforward buckets across the rim.

With favorites Gonzaga and Arizona each out, this match is organising extremely effectively for Coach Ok to get the fairytale ending he desires. Duke’s margin for error nonetheless feels fairly skinny, however there’s little doubt that is essentially the most proficient workforce left standing.

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