Men’s NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Elite 8 Game Breakdown

Duke Men's College Basketball Seth Curry

Men’s Basketball NCAA Tournament Midwest Region Elite 8 Game Breakdown


#1 Louisville vs. #2 Duke (Indianapolis, Indiana)

If Louisville was not the best team in the nation before, they probably are now. After an opening weekend that saw many top teams struggle or lose, the Cardinals came away from Lexington with a couple relatively easy victories. After beating 16 seed North Carolina A&T by a score of 79-48, Louisville cruised past Colorado State 82-56 on Saturday. With their Sweet Sixteen victory over Oregon, the Cardinals have now won 13 games in a row since their early February epic five overtime loss at Notre Dame. Russ Smith led the way against the Ducks with 31 points.

Meanwhile, Duke has had a pretty tough road to the Elite Eight, beating Albany, Creighton and Michigan State along the way. It was once again Seth Curry, with a little help from Rasheed Sulaimon and Mason Plumlee, that led the scoring attack against the Spartans, but it was really the Blue Devils defensive intensity that made the difference. The Spartans could not get anything going offensively and the Duke defense deserves much of the credit.

This is an interesting matchup for a variety of reasons. Louisville is the only #1 seed left in the NCAA Tournament. Duke joins Ohio State as the only #2 seeds left of the eight remaining teams eyeing a national championship. Anything can happen of course, but the winner of this game has to feel like they really earned a spot in Atlanta. A team like Florida, for example, reached the Elite Eight by playing the lowest possible seed in all three games. The road has not been quite that easy for Louisville and, especially, Duke. This is also the first time Coach Rick Pitino and Coach Mike Krzyzewski have met in a regional final since Christian Laettner’s epic game winner in 1992.

But on the floor, this game will come down to the Blue Devils remaining tough and making their shots. Duke connected on 7-of-18 from beyond the arc against Michigan State and they will need a similar showing against Louisville. However, they may need to spread the ball around a bit more against the Cardinals. Curry made six of those seven three-pointers. Ryan Kelly, Quinn Cook and Sulaimon were a combined 0-for-8. Louisville’s toughness on defense and in the paint should neutralize Plumlee for the most part. But Plumlee can get involved in the offense if Coach Pitino needs to stop the shooters on the perimeter. If the Cardinals can manage to stick to Curry, the frontcourt, most notably Gorgui Dieng, will be able to stop the slashers and Plumlee. That means finding another shooter could make all of the difference for Duke. These two teams met earlier this season when Duke won 76-71 in the Bahamas. But November was a long, long time ago and the Cardinals were without Dieng, their leading shot blocker and rebounder. Louisville will need some other scorers to step up. We are past the point in the NCAA Tournament where Smith can drop 30 plus points and win the game all by himself. Dieng is a capable interior scorer, but Louisville needs somebody like Peyton Siva, Wayne Blackshear or Luke Hancock to start knocking down some shots with some consistency if they want to make it to Atlanta.


Midwest Regional Overview


West Regional Overview

West Region Elite 8 Game Breakdowns


East Regional Overview

East Region Elite 8 Game Breakdowns


South Regional Overview

South Region Elite 8 Game Breakdowns

NCAA Tournament Central