The Cinderella's are finished, all the double-digit seeds are gone and we are down to the powerhouse programs: The eight best teams in the country.
They always say that guard play wins over the NCAA Tournament but you can never discount the coaching. Bo Ryan, Sean Miller, John Calipari and Mike Brey spotlight a coaching clinic on the opening night of the Elite Eight while Rick Pitino, Tom Izzo, Mike Krzyzewski and Mark Few wait to take center stage Sunday afternoon.
It doesn't get any better than a battle for a trip to the most coveted place in college sports: The Final Four in Indianapolis.
How/Where to watch
6:09 pm ET TBS #1 Wisconsin vs. #2 Arizona (Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner, Rachel Nichols)
8:49 pm ET TBS #1 Kentucky vs. #3 Notre Dame (Brian Anderson, Chris Webber, Len Elmore, Lewis Johnson)
#1 Wisconsin vs. #2 Arizona West Regional Final
This is a rematch of last year's Elite Eight in Anaheim, California where the Badgers knocked off the Wildcats 64-63 thanks to Frank Kaminsky's dominate game, 28 points and 11 boards. Arizona has been one possession away from the Final Four in back to back seasons and their program hasn't experienced the madness since 2001 (before Sean Miller became head coach).
Miller's squad has another chance on Saturday night as their should be a pro-Wildcats crowd at the Staples Center that will look for this defensive powerhouse to shut down the three-headed monster of Kaminsky, Sam Dekker and Nigel Hayes. The Badgers are one of the most efficient offensive teams in the country and Arizona ranks 14th in the country in points allowed so it's an interest contrast of styles. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson can guard four positions on the court and should have the match-up against Dekker, who was outstanding in the last round against North Carolina (23 points and 10 rebounds).
If Arizona is going to knock down the Badgers they are going to need contributions from Gabe York (their best three point shooter) and Kaleb Tarczewski (who put up 12 points and 12 rebounds against Xavier). T.J. McConnell is also going to need to play a full 40 minutes after turning the ball over an uncharacteristic four times in their last battle in the Sweet 16.
With Traevon Jackson back and Bronson Koenig playing at an all-time high level, the Badgers are deeper than they were at the beginning of the tournament and that could be a huge factor in this match-up.
Both of these teams are capable of lifting the trophy up in April and defeating Kentucky but first it all comes down to Saturday and the star power in this game: Kaminsky, McConnell and Stanley Johnson.
#1 Kentucky vs. #3 Notre Dame Midwest Regional Final
Will Notre Dame be the first team to give Kentucky a true test in this NCAA Tournament?
It certainly won't be easy but the Irish have a chance and one of the reasons why is because of their ability to knock down the three point shot.
In order to beat Kentucky, a team is going to have to knock down 15 or more three pointers. It's just that difficult to beat them but Notre Dame is capable. Demetrius Jackson, Pat Connaughton and Steve Vasturia are lights out behind the arc and with one of the best guards in the country on your team, Jerian Grant, it's easy to find open shots especially off the pick-and-roll.
The main issues for the Irish that could come back to haunt them is depth and size. Notre Dame runs seven deep (with Bonzie Colson and V.J. Beachem being the main guys that come off the bench) and their biggest man, by far, is Zach Auguste, who is only 6'10".
Expect Kentucky to easily win the battle on the glass after Notre Dame was out-rebounded by Northeastern 33 to 17 in their second round match-up. Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles, Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee should also all have a field day in the paint on the offensive end of the floor.
The Wildcats most likely will be 38-0 after Saturday night, with yet another trip to the Final Four on the program's resume.