Elite Eight bracket breakdown
Jerry Palm offers his breakdown of the Elite Eight.
Since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, there has only been one Final Four that had all four No. 1 seeds. Almost as rare is the Final Four with none of them. That has happened twice, in 2006 and 2011. Those two years also had 11-seeds in the Final Four, which is the record low. That also happened in 1986.
Florida has set the record for the easiest path ever to an Elite Eight berth. The Gators have beaten the 14, 11 and now 15 seeds in their region. The Gators' win over 11-seed Minnesota ranks as their best win away from home so far this season. They now face 4-seed Michigan. If Florida wins, it will be just the second 3-seed to reach the Final Four without having to beat either of the top two seeds (Georgia Tech, 2004). It will also be the Gators' third Final Four as a 3-seed (2006, 1994).
Only once before have two 4-seeds made the Final Four (1990), and two 3-seeds have made it just three times (1989, 1998, 2003). There have only been three Elite Eight games between a 3-seed and a 4-seed, all in different years. This is the first time we'll have two in the same year.
The Big East as we know it is going out in style. The league will have at least one Final Four participant as two members meet for the East Regional title (Syracuse and Marquette). Louisville could make it a pair by winning on Sunday. The conference has had at least one team in the Final Four every year since 2008.
The Big Ten is looking for its first championship since Mateen Cleaves and company cut down the nets in 2000, and it could put two teams in as well. Ohio State and Michigan represent the league in the Elite Eight and are bracketed to meet for the title if both get there. That event might rival a football game between the two. Might.
All eight teams playing this Saturday and Sunday have at least one previous Final Four appearance. The longest drought is Wichita State's, which hasn't been since 1965. Michigan hasn't been since the Fab Five days in 1993. The Syracuse-Marquette winner will end a 10-year dry spell; each team's last appearance was in 2003. Ohio State and Louisville are looking to make back-to-back appearances.
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