Saturday Elite 8 predictions

Will we have four No. 1 seeds in the Final Four for the second straight year? The way this tourney has gone, I wouldn’t doubt it. But let’s see.

West Regional
No. 3 Missouri vs. No. 1 Connecticut
The Tigers opened some eyes Thursday, running and gunning past Memphis while putting up over 100 points in the process. After that performance, which saw Mizzou up by as many as 24 points in the second half, confidence should be high.
But Missouri has never played in a Final Four. And UConn might be playing the most consistent basketball in the tournament to date. Expect Missouri to try to get the Huskies out of their game through the full-court press, but the Tigers will be hard-pressed to contain 7-foot-3 UConn center Hasheem Thabeet. Their best bet would be to get Thabeet in foul trouble and even the odds. Otherwise, the Huskies should win this convincingly.
Pick: Connecticut

East Regional
No. 3 Villanova vs. No. 1 Pittsburgh
Pitt may be the No. 1 seed, but the Wildcats seem to be gathering most of the buzz going into this game. That makes a lot of sense, as Villanova has just wasted Duke and UCLA while the Panthers seem to be ekeing out victories over everyone they play. If you go by how each team is playing, Villanova should be OK.
A couple things could factor in Pittsburgh’s favor though. If DeJuan Blair can stay out of foul trouble, he provides a space-eating low-post scoring threat that Villanova has no real counter for. And perhaps like Louisville (which struggled at times in its first two games before destroying Arizona Friday), perhaps the Panthers have a big game in them. They’ve gotten big individual games from Blair (E. Tenn State), Sam Young (Okla. State) and Levance Fields (Xavier). They need a combo to win this game.
Pick: Villanova

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