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NCAA Tournament Elite 8 Primer

North Carolina forward Tyler Zeller (44) grabs a

North Carolina forward Tyler Zeller (44) grabs a rebound against Ohio forward Jon Smith (21) during the first half of an NCAA tournament Midwest Regional college basketball game, Friday, March 23, 2012, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Saturday
4:30 / CBS
No. 4 Louisville (29-9) vs. No. 7 Florida (26-10): Hoops Scoops raved about the defensive prowess of Louisville center Gorgui Dieng. And he made us look good with seven blocks in Thursday’s 57-44 win over top-seeded Michigan State. If Louisville gets that type of an effort from Dieng against Florida, a trip to the Final Four looms. As for the Gators, offensive balance will be the key. Florida got great production from Bradley Beal, who shot 8-for-10 from the field and had 21 points, in its 68-58 win over Marquette. The rest of the Gators were less than impressive, shooting a combined 16-for-49. That has to change if Billy Donovan is to advance to his fourth Final Four. A key will be the play of Erik Murphy. Murphy averaged 19 points during the SEC Tournament, but has just 22 points through three NCAA games. He needs to shoot it better.

7:05 / CBS
No. 2 Ohio State (30-7) vs. No. 1 Syracuse (34-2): No Fab Melo, no problem? Syracuse was about as smooth as it could be in its 64-63 win over Wisconsin. The only reason the Orange didn’t get into the 80s was because of the Badgers’ slow-motion offense. Syracuse featured four players in double figures and shot 55 percent from the field. Most importantly, Syracuse took care of the ball and committed just six turnovers. That type of balance is what has gotten the Orange to this point. Ohio State big man Jared Sullinger came up big just when the Buckeyes needed him to. The senior forward had 23 points and 11 rebounds and thoroughly dominated Cincinnati’s best post man Yancy Gates (7 points, 5 rebounds). One would think Sullinger will make it his business to exploit Syracuse’s lack of depth in the paint. If Buckeye forward Deshaun Thomas (26 points, 7 rebounds) puts forth the same effort he did against Cincinnati, Syracuse could be in real trouble.

Sunday
2:20 / CBS
No. 1 Kentucky (35-2) vs. No. 3 Baylor (30-7): Indiana did a fine job defending Anthony Davis, but shutting down the rest of Kentucky was the problem. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was brilliant (24 points, 10 rebounds), while Doron Lamb sliced and diced his way to 21 points. Kentucky’s athleticism, size and overall versatile play is almost impossible to deal with, especially if Darius Miller, who scored 19 points off the bench against Indiana, continues his solid play. Miller had 19 points in Kentucky’s third-round win over Iowa State. Baylor got a balanced performance in Friday’s 75-70 win over Xavier. Most importantly, the Bears had 21 assists and 29 field goals. Perry Jones was efficient, but not dominant against Musketeers big man Kenny Frease. Jones had just five rebounds and will need to get better on the boards to deal with Kentucky’s front line.

5:05 / CBS
No. 1 North Carolina (32-5) vs. No. 2 Kansas (30-6): North Carolina’s offense looks different without Kendall Marshall running the show. But the Tar Heels still managed to get four players into double figures without him. Tyler Zeller (20 points, 22 rebounds, 4 blocks) had a marvelous game. North Carolina’s backcourt of Reggie Bullock and Stilman White combined for 11 assists and just two turnovers. Marshall could return on Sunday. The question is how much will he play and how effective will he be? It was an offensive struggle for Kansas in its 60-57 win over Kansas on Friday. Outside of Thomas Robinson (18 points, 15 rebounds) and Elijah Johnson (11 poitns), it was a nightmare from the field for the Jayhawks. Kansas can also thank Jeff Withey (8 points, 10 blocks) for the win. The Jayhawks joy could be short lived, especially if the offense isn’t clicking on Sunday.
 

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