What we need to know about Sunday’s Elite Eight games

11:27 AM ET

The 2016-17 deteriorate is circuitous down precisely a approach everybody pronounced it would, with a SEC winning a college basketball landscape and a ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten all trailing forlornly in a league’s prolonged and ominous shadow.

Wait, what?

Kentucky, Florida and South Carolina are all still alive. The Wildcats were ostensible to make it this far. The Gators are, during most, a amiable surprise. Conversely, a Gamecocks have repelled flattering most everybody solely themselves and Frank Martin. Just 1.8 percent of a brackets submitted to a ESPN Tournament Challenge had Martin’s organisation creation a informal final.

Give a SEC full credit. The joining warranted 5 bids for only a third time in a past 9 years. Vanderbilt was expected one self-inflicted blunder divided from holding down Northwestern, Arkansas played top-seeded North Carolina into a 40th minute, and a conference’s 3 remaining members have had to kick a likes of Duke, UCLA, Baylor, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wichita State to get here.

No, a SEC’s run by a joint doesn’t indispensably boost a station in top-to-bottom measures of discussion strength. (When LSU and Missouri consecrate 14 percent of your membership, you’re not going to demeanour really good by such metrics in 2017.) Then again, no one in their right mind cares really most about top-to-bottom measures of discussion strength in late March. There will be during slightest one and utterly presumably dual SEC teams benefaction during a Final Four. That is discussion strength enough, surely.

No. 7 seed South Carolina vs. No. 4 Florida

If you’re looking for chronological parallels for South Carolina’s conspicuous three-game streak, we could do worse than UConn in 2011, with only a splash of a Huskies in 2014. The Gamecocks finished a unchanging deteriorate by losing 6 of their final nine, kind of like UConn’s dropping 7 of a final 11 in 2010-11.

During this stream NCAA contest run, Martin’s organisation has alternated extraordinary offense (ask Duke) with implausible invulnerability (see Baylor), only like Jim Calhoun’s organisation did 6 years ago. Throw in a fact that South Carolina is a No. 7 seed only like UConn was in 2014, and a design is complete. None of that guarantees a inhabitant pretension for a Gamecocks, though 9 days ago who would have suspicion we’d even be bringing adult a possibility?

The biggest disproportion between South Carolina during a unchanging deteriorate and a organisation we now see before us has been scoring on a interior. Somehow a organisation that converted 44 percent of a tries inside a arc during SEC play is now sharpened 54 percent in a tournament. That’s mostly PJ Dozier‘s doing. The sophomore’s only 2-of-11 from over a arc over a past 3 games, though he has connected on 63 percent of his 2s. Opposing defenses rapt with Chris Silva, Duane Notice and SEC Player of a Year Sindarius Thornwell now have to understanding with a newly fit Dozier as well.

If there’s a diseased couple in this invulnerability that Florida can attack, it is simply that South Carolina has authorised a contest opponents to try a good many 3s. Granted, there’s some rubbish time opposite Marquette built into these numbers, though a Golden Eagles and Duke both launched a really high series of shots from over a arc.

Perhaps a Gators can find an advantage there — if they reason on to a ball. The Gamecocks have been forcing a high series of turnovers in a tournament, and Mike White’s organisation is good, though by no means great, during holding caring of a rock.

KeVaughn Allen rang adult 35 points in 37 mins opposite Wisconsin, and a sophomore’s heroics — and something of a fall by Florida in a final mins of law — set a stage for Chris Chiozza‘s artistic buzzer-beater in overtime. With Allen and Devin Robinson, a Gators have dual proven scorers who can strike shots from possibly side of a arc. Throw in Kasey Hill, Justin Leon and Canyon Barry, and this is a versatile and learned rotation, despite one that’s been somewhat small given losing John Egbunu to a knee injury.

Lastly, a observation tip. Don’t be fooled if South Carolina is down early. In a contest so far, a Gamecocks have indeed been outscored 57-43 in a initial 10 mins of their 3 games. From that indicate on, however, South Carolina has thrashed a opponents 208-147. Watch those final 30 minutes.

No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 1 North Carolina

De’Aaron Fox has been a best actor in a NCAA contest so far, and he’s North Carolina’s problem now.

In a diversion in that Bam Adebayo scored dual points and UCLA shot improved than 60 percent on a 2s, Kentucky still won by 11 points utterly simply since of Fox. Conventional knowledge says a indicate ensure with no 3-point operation to pronounce of should be easy to guard, though there’s zero required about John Calipari’s freshman.

Fox had a round in his hands for some-more or reduction a whole diversion opposite a Bruins, and in that time he scored 39 points while committing only one turnover. Both numbers were huge. The beginner regularly sliced a UCLA invulnerability into ribbons — either it was in man-to-man or section — on his approach to a 13-of-19 sharpened opening inside a arc. Fox was helped along, surely, by a participation on a wings of shooters like Malik Monk and Derek Willis, as good as a associate penetrator like Isaiah Briscoe. Truly, this is a pick-your-poison offense.

Still, a Bruins indeed shot improved from a margin than a Wildcats. What gave UK a advantage in a Sweet 16 was simply an contemptible refusal to dedicate turnovers. Indeed, in 3 contest games Kentucky has given a round divided only 25 times in 203 descent possessions. When we finish 88 percent of your trips down a building with a shot of some type, you’re going to measure a lot of points.

It’s a protected gamble a series for turnovers will stay sincerely low opposite a Tar Heels invulnerability that emphasizes tying opponents to one shot. The doubt afterwards becomes either Roy Williams’ organisation can stay in front of Fox and keep a round out of a paint. For hostile defenses this season, that answer has spasmodic been “on occasion.” It has roughly never been “always.”

Fortunately for UNC fans, their organisation also has a few weapons. Against Butler, Justin Jackson and Joel Berry II emerged from their particular sharpened slumps, to a balance of a total 17-of-30 opening from a floor. Moreover, a Tar Heels have continued their season-long specialty of pulsation a descent glass. With Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks and Tony Bradley heading a way, North Carolina has rebounded 43 percent of a missed shots over a past 3 games.

Speaking of specialties, watch a fouls, or, some-more specifically, a giveaway throws. Both of these teams have enjoyed large advantages over their contest opponents in terms of scoring from a line, and UK indeed has been outscored by one indicate from a margin by a final 3 teams it has faced. Just remember that giveaway throws are easy to make, tedious to watch and some-more essential than we think.

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