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Previewing the Elite Eight: West Region

by Photo of Taylor Armosino

#4 Louisville vs #7 Florida. Who will advance to the Final Four?

Previewing the Elite Eight: West Region

How They Got There:

#4 Louisville

The Cardinals reached the Elite 8 the hard way, by knocking off the number one seeded Michigan State Spartans 57-44. I said the game would be decided in the paint and that would favor Michigan State. I was wrong. The game was decided in the paint, but Louisville was the team that dominated. Cardinals center Gorgui Dieng was the star of the game, scoring 5 points, grabbing 9 boards and blocking an astounding 7 shots. Dieng's shot blocking totally disrupted the Spartans offense and took them out of their game. Louisville's defense held Michigan State to just 28% shooting for the game and forced the Spartans into 15 turnovers. The Cardinals held Spartans star Draymond Green to 5/16 shooting, 1/7 from downtown. Offensively, point guard Peyton Siva dished 9 assists and forward Chane Behanan scored 15 points to lead Louisville to victory.

#7 Florida

Like Louisville, the Florida Gators defense has been awfully good as of late. This sentiment proved true once again, as Florida knocked off third seeded Marquette 68-58. The Gators held Marquette to just 31% shooting for the game. Marquette's two star players, Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder were held to just 10/30 shooting. Florida's length defensively disrupted the Golden Eagles in the paint as the Gators blocked 9 Marquette shots. Florida did an excellent job defending the perimeter as well, holding Marquette to 5/21 from downtown. Offensively, it was the Brad Beal show. The fantastic freshman scored 21 points on 8/10 shooting and splashed three ringers from downtown. Dynamic guards Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton each chipped in with 11 points a piece.

Key Matchup: Bradley Beal Versus Gorgui Dieng

Now I know what you're thinking. Yes, Beal is a guard while Dieng is a center. You may ask, how can this be a key matchup? They don't even play the same position. I'll tell you why. Florida is a lethal 3 point shooting team and they like to shoot the 3 ball, a lot. Louisville is going to press Florida's outside shooters and try to funnel them into Dieng in the paint. If Dieng can be as disruptive as he was against Michigan State, Louisville has a really good chance of winning the game. Florida has a versatile offense, but their strength is outside shooting. Bradley Beal is their best, and most versatile scorer. He is lethal both shooting and driving the ball. Louisville's best chance to defend him is to play up on him and hope that Dieng can disrupt his shots, should he get into the paint. Florida center Patric Young can be a great scorer when the Gators work him into the game plan. Florida's best chance to win this game is to get Young involved early down low to keep Dieng honest. If Young can make his presence felt, Dieng will have to keep close to him which should open up some lanes for Beal and the other dynamic Florida guards to score at the rim.

Winner: Florida

During the regular season, Florida had a dynamic offense, but was a very average defensive team. So far in this tournament they've found their defensive prowess which has made all the difference. Their defense has been absolutely sensational. They have athleticism, good fundamentals and length on offense. Louisville is a good offensive team, but I believe Florida is a better overall team. They boast the best player on either team, Bradley Beal, and I like their offense better than that of Louisville. The Cardinal will struggle with Florida's length as they don't boast a lot of length down low. After Dieng, Louisville doesn't have another interior presence. Florida big men Erik Murphy and Patric Young, 6'10 and 6'9 respectively, will give Louisville fits defensively. I like the playmaking ability of Florida's backcourt and I think they'll make the difference in the game. Both teams are going to defend well, but in the end Florida is better at putting the ball in the basket. Their advantage offensively will make the difference in this game and the Gators will be headed back to the Final Four for the first time since 2007.

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