Men's Basketball 2017 NCAA Tournament South Region Elite 8 Game Breakdown

South Region Elite Eight Game Breakdown
North Carolina and Kentucky will face off in the Elite Eight with a trip to Phoenix and the Final Four on the line. The two blue bloods played each other in Las Vegas back in December, where Kentucky came away with a 103-100 victory. It’s safe to say there will be no shortage of points scored on Sunday. Kentucky has gotten used to the rematch narrative with victories over Wichita State, who they defeated in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, and UCLA, who beat the Wildcats in Lexington earlier this season. There’s a lot of history in this matchup. North Carolina has been to 19 Final Fours, with the most recent being last season’s heart-breaking loss in the championship game. Kentucky has been to 17 Final Fours and this would be their first since 2015 and their fifth since 2011.
This game could come down to which dynamic duo plays better. Kentucky’s freshmen phenoms De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk combined for 60 points in their win over UCLA. Fox decidedly out-played fellow freshman star Lonzo Ball, dropping 39 points and defensively holding Ball to just 10 points. North Carolina’s duo has an experience advantage with two juniors in Justin Jackson and Joel Berry, who combined for 50 points against Butler. In the December matchup, Fox and Monk scored 71 points combined while Jackson and Berry had 57. Whichever pair has the best game could be the deciding factor in which team gets to the Final Four.
North Carolina’s biggest strength is rebounding, which Kentucky did a good job neutralizing in their first contest this year. Kentucky held the Tar Heels to just 10 offensive rebounds, while Kentucky themselves grabbed 15 offensive boards. The biggest story line from that December battle was Malik Monk scoring 47 points. North Carolina didn’t have Theo Pinson in that game and he is likely to spend a lot of time defending Monk. If North Carolina can get their rebounds and contain Monk, they have a clear path to Phoenix. However, if Fox plays like he did against UCLA and Kentucky can get rebounds and run on North Carolina, the Wildcats will be back in the Final Four.