3 Hot Takes For Elite 8 Day 2: I Thought the SEC Was Bad at Basketball?
Three SEC teams in the Elite 8? (I thought the SEC was bad at basketball this year.... Interesting). As Florida and South Carolina prepare to do battle on the hardwood in Madison Square Garden later today, another SEC team, the Kentucky Wildcats, will prepare to face #1 seed North Carolina from Memphis.
The Gators and the Gamecocks will meet for the third time this year and the Wildcats and the Tar Heels will go toe to toe for the second time this season.
If you like high scoring, fast paced games, prepare yourself for Sunday of the Elite 8, it's going to be way better than day 1.
1.) Two SEC Teams Will Play in the Final Four
Yeah, I call it a hot take. There's at least one team that'll make the Final Four from the SEC, either Florida or South Carolina, but I'm saying two teams will make the last four in the tournament.
I'll leave my prediction for the SEC-SEC matchup for a little later, but here's why Kentucky will beat UNC.
The Wildcats have the deadliest guard combo remaining in the tournament now with Kansas gone, with Malik Monk and D'Aaron Fox, and the two have been nothing short of amazing through three games in the tourney.
In their previous meeting, the Cats pulled out a 103-100 win in Las Vegas, on a neutral floor. Will this be as high scoring? No, probably not, but don't be surprised if these teams both easily breeze by 70 points.
Monk scored 47 and Fox scored 24 and added 10 assists in a thrilling performance from the two future NBA guards. Watch out for these two to have a big day (if they can shoot the ball from outside) and if they struggle, they'll get the ball inside to Bam Adebayo or Wenyen Gabriel.
The Cats will score 90, and win.
2.) Sindarius Thornwell Will Go for a Double Double
If you aren't familiar with Sindarius Thornwell, then take a moment to watch these highlights. Thornwell ranked in the top 20 in the country during the regular season in points per game, and he hasn't slowed down at in the post season.
In fact, Thornwell has been scoring more points in the tournament then he averaged on the year (21.2 during the season, 25.7 in the tournament).
Thornwell opened the tournament with a double double (29 points, 11 rebounds) in a thrashing win over Marquette, and he followed it up with identical performances against Duke and Baylor, 24 points and 6 rebounds.
Thornwell put up 20 points and 5 rebounds in the Gamecock's win over Florida in Columbia on January 18th, and in the second game, racked up a double double with 23 points and 10 rebounds .
Thornwell averages well over 30 minutes and this tournament, he has played no less that 34 for head coach Frank Martin who has developed Thornwell into an absolute stud.
Keep tabs on #0, although it won't be hard as the 6'5", 211 pound guard flies all over the floor and touches the ball seemingly every Gamecock possession.
Thornwell will hold the key to success for coach Martin and South Carolina. against Florida today.
3.) A 7 Seed Will Make the Final Four
Yes, I'm reading on the coattails of the last remaining Cinderella team all the way to the Final Four. I was a doubter of the Gamecocks all season, thinking they were overrated and undeserving of a top 25 ranking.
But they've done nothing but prove me wrong all year.
Every since a gut wrenching loss to Alabama at home in quadruple overtime 90-86, I've been impressed with the fight and heart coach Frank Martin has instilled on his players. Quite simply, he has them all believing.
This is Florida's game to lose, and they should be expected to win over the lower seeded team. And that is the reason I'm taking South Carolina.
Thornwell goes off, PJ Dozier provides support from deep, and the bigs inside keep the Gators shooting jumpers from outside the paint.
Defense will be key, as the Gamecocks advance to Arizona, with a 67-61 win over Florida.
Enjoy your Sunday everyone!