Viewer's Guide: Down to four by the end of the day
By the end of Sunday, only four teams will be left standing.
Two in, two to go. The first half of the Final Four was filled Saturday night, with Florida taking care of Dayton and Wisconsin escaping against Arizona in overtime. The latter was one of the best games of the tournament, with punches and counterpunches being thrown all game by both teams. Both games on Sunday have the potential to be terrific matchups. By the end of the day, we will have just four teams remaining.
Note: All times are Eastern.
No. 4 Michigan State vs. No. 7 Connecticut (2:20 p.m., CBS): The top three seeds have all been bounced from the East Region, with the lower-seeded Spartans and Huskies both advancing from Friday's games. Michigan State is the favorite after beating Virginia in the Sweet 16 -- and has been one of the favorites to cut down the nets in Dallas since the tournament began. Meanwhile, Connecticut has been riding its terrific perimeter group to wins over Saint Joseph's, Villanova and Iowa State. This one will be interesting, as Connecticut's guards have been playing outstanding all season, and Michigan State has been going to Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson in the dance.
For Connecticut, the key will be holding its own against Payne and Dawson in the frontcourt. The Huskies have generally been able to avoid dominant big men in the NCAA Tournament, but Payne and Dawson have been fantastic the past three games. Payne had 41 in the Round of 64 against Delaware, while Dawson is averaging 20 points and nine rebounds in the NCAA Tournament. Connecticut has to keep them off the offensive glass and from completely controlling the paint. Can Amida Brimah provide some protection at the rim? And will Payne take advantage of his ability to step out and make shots? On the other side, it will be up to Connecticut's guards. With the way Keith Appling has been struggling, the Huskies will have to take advantage of their backcourt edge. Shabazz Napier needs a big night, while Ryan Boatright also has to be productive. Connecticut will go as far as its perimeter group (and X-factor DeAndre Daniels) can take them. Gary Harris will be a key in the backcourt for Michigan State; he only had six points on Friday.
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 8 Kentucky (5:05 p.m., CBS): Heading into the NCAA Tournament, neither team was the most popular pick to reach the Elite Eight. Louisville (or Wichita State) was the main pick at the top of the bracket, while Duke looked like the pick in the bottom of the bracket. Instead, both teams are playing outstanding basketball at the right time -- even though this will again be a battle of style, system and personnel. Kentucky pulled off upset wins over Wichita State and Louisville, and the Wildcats have officially turned the corner after their up and down regular season. Meanwhile, Michigan cruised past Wofford and Texas before needing to hold on in the final minute against Tennessee.
Let's start with the battle on the inside. Most expected Tennessee to dominate the paint with Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon, but Maymon got in early foul trouble and Michigan used its smaller lineup to create matchup issues at the other end. Can the Wolverines do the same against Kentucky? Julius Randle is too strong for Glenn Robinson III at one end, but GR3 will look to use his speed in transition to get to the rim. Kentucky is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, but so was Tennessee and Michigan was able to hold the Vols below their season average for offensive rebounding percentage. Jordan Morgan needs to play well again; he's averaging 13.3 points and nine rebounds in the NCAA Tournament. At the other end, how will Kentucky guard Michigan on the perimeter? The Wolverines are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country, and Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert will test Aaron Harrison and James Young on the defensive end. If both Stauskas and LeVert get going, Michigan is nearly impossible to beat. The Wolverines are averaging nearly 11 3-pointers per game in the NCAA Tournament, shooting better than 49 percent from behind the arc.
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