Tournament Notebook: Elite Eight Picks for 2014
I don’t know about you guys, but the 2014 Sweet 16 was one of the best in a long time. I went 6-2 on picks, including upset picks of Dayton and Kentucky. The beauty of the NCAA Tournament is the quick turnaround in consecutive rounds. Here’s my elite eight picks for 2014:
#11 Dayton vs. #1 Florida (Saturday, 5:09 PM in Memphis, TN)
The cliche storyline with the Flyers has been how deep they are, playing up to 12 different players in any given game. They will need every bit of that depth to go up against the Gators who have looked unstoppable on their 28 game winning streak. Dayton has put together quite the Cinderella resume, but there’s no way they get past the talent of Florida. If these two teams played 10 times, I would take the Gators to win all 10 games.
The Pick: Florida by double digits easily.
Odds: Florida (-10.5/-650)
Kenpom.com Prediction: Florida 69-60 (84%)
#2 Wisconsin vs. #1 Arizona (Saturday, 7:49 PM in Anaheim, CA)
Wow, did those Badgers look great in a 69-52 shellacking of Baylor or what? Wisconsin put forth 1.11 points per possession while holding Baylor to a low 0.84 figure. Arizona also looked mighty good in a hard fought win over San Diego St. despite star point guard Nick Johnson’s relatively poor game shooting. Expect this to be low-scoring as both teams will ratchet up the defense and play from the half-court. It’s also worth noting that this game will essentially be a road game for Wisconsin.
The Pick: Wisconsin because the stars seem aligned for Bo Ryan and his first Final Four.
Odds: Arizona (-3.0/-160)
Kenpom.com Prediction: Arizona 67-64 (64%)
#7 Connecticut vs. #4 Michigan St. (Sunday, 1:20 PM in New York, NY)
Connecticut has arguably had the easiest road to the Elite 8 with wins over St. Josephs, Villanova and short-handed Iowa State while Michigan State has had to battle with Harvard and Virginia in the last two rounds. Shabazz Napier and Keith Appling will be a fantastic battle at the point and the matchup down low will also be entertaining. The Huskies will be helped by the strong crowd at Madison Square Garden.
The Pick: Michigan St. as Tom Izzo makes his seventh trip to the Final Four.
Odds: Michigan St. (-5.0/-230)
Kenpom.com Prediction: Michigan St. 69-67 (58%)
#8 Kentucky vs. #2 Michigan (Sunday, 4:05 PM in Indianapolis, IN)
The Wolverines are the third team from the Big Ten to grace this year’s Elite Eight and they are probably the best offensively of the three. However, they haven’t seen anyone near as talented as the Kentucky Wildcats on their path here. Kentucky looked like five freshman early against Louisville, but proceeded to transform into a monstrous team down low. I’m not sure Michigan has the personnel to deal with the Wildcats’ size and length.
The Pick: Kentucky on a wild Final Four run through murderer’s row.
Odds: Kentucky (-2.0/-140)
Kenpom.com Prediction: Michigan 71-70 (50%)
Picks in Confidence Order
Florida over Dayton (Most Confident)
Michigan State over Connecticut
Kentucky over Michigan
Wisconsin over Arizona (Least Confident)
What teams do you have dancing their way to the Final Four? Let me know by commenting below!