Men's Basketball 2017 NCAA Tournament East Region Elite 8 Game Breakdowns

East Region Elite Eight Game Breakdown
The Florida Gators went bone dry at the end of regulation and into overtime against the Wisconsin Badgers. Despite struggling to find a basket, Chris Chiozza hit the running game-winner as time expired to give Florida the one-point victory and a berth in the Elite Eight. Devin Robinson and much of the Gator attack were mostly invisible offensively. KeVaughn Allen was the only player who could muster much of an offensive game. He finished with 35 points on 24 field-goal attempts. This, after not being able to buy a basket in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Wisconsin uncharacteristically turned the ball over, characteristically was terrible from the foul line, and encountered foul trouble once again. Nigel Hayes was relegated to the bench at the end of the first half; Vitto Brown fouled out early; Ethan Happ saw his minutes cut. It all added up to a wild, back-and-forth affair that each team seemed like it had won on multiple occasions. Only Florida did definitively.
In the other regional semifinal match, defense travels. Apparently, so does the Gamecock faithful. Seven-seed South Carolina is through the Sweet Sixteen and into the Elite Eight thanks to the formula it has been following all tournament long. South Carolina held the Baylor Bears to 30 percent shooting from the floor, 3-of-13 from three, forced 16 turnovers, and seemed faster to every 50-50 ball. And yet, that has been this team’s M.O. all year. What has changed in the NCAA Tournament is what it’s been able to achieve with the basketball. We were waiting each round for the Gamecocks to run out of makes offensively. During the regular season, Carolina won with its defense but had some bad losses when its offense couldn’t carry its weight. A slow offensive game would bury them in March just the same as in November. Yet through to the regional finals, it has yet to happen. Sindarius Thornwell topped 20 points for the third consecutive round; he and his teammates shot 46 percent from the field. The defense dominates and the offense closes the door one round after another.
With just the 4-seed Florida and 7-seed South Carolina remaining in the East, one of these teams is guaranteed a trip to the Final Four. Few brackets could have imagined such a scenario when the East region began, but as the games progressed, they both revealed themselves as deserving. South Carolina and Florida have had two of the best defenses in the country during the regular year and through the tournament. They each have a go-to scorer coming in hot with secondary players capable of scoring in bunches. The recipe is there. Cracking the Final Four now comes down to execution. Neither team has yet faced a defense as good as the other. That shouldn’t worry either roster, but it will play a role in how the game advances. As has been the case, while the defenses dominate, offense will determine who wins the day.