Jim Sez Sunday Elite 8 Previews

THE NCAA TOURNAMENT UPDATE - SUNDAY'S ELITE 8 PREVIEWS

Here's our Jim Sez previews for the NCAA Tournament Elite 8 games on Sunday ... call 1-800-323-4453 for the Elite 8 selections or get 'em right here on line game-day morning/afternoon:

MIDWEST REGIONAL FINAL - United Center, Chicago (IL)
#10 SYRACUSE (22-13) vs. #1 VIRGINIA (29-7) - 6:09 p.m. ET, TBS

Hey, let's get this "ACC Tournament" day/night started, right?

All four teams in action on this Easter Sunday are ACC entrants but it is long-shot Syracuse that's creating quite the stir because many folks - including yours truly - didn't even think the Orange should have been part of this tourney in the first place. Still, hats off to Jim Boeheim's crew for a truly magnificent finish in Friday's 63-60 win against Gonzaga as the 'Cuse scored 15 of the game's final 18 points with underrated star Michael Gbinije (team-high 20 points) and shot-blocking frosh Tyler Lydon taking center stage late.

Now, the $64,000 question is will this vaunted Syracuse zone defense - one that held the Zags without a field goal for the final six-plus minutes in that Sweet 16 tilt - keep the lid on the heavy-duty favored Virginia Cavaliers? Hey, nobody was moving the ball like Tony Bennett's Wahoos in Friday night's electric 84-71 win/cover against 6.5-point pup Iowa State - a big-time Jim Hurley Network winner! - as Virginia piled up 26 assists on 32 made field goals and the criss-cross in-the-paint passes led to lots off dunks for F/C Anthony Gill (see season-high 23 points). Virginia C Mike Tobey (18 points, 7 rebs versus Gonzaga) could be the most important reserve this whole holiday weekend.

Now, here's the NCAA Tournament roads that both Syracuse and Virginia have travelled so far ...

SYRACUSE

DATE OPPSPREAD SCORE
3-18Dayton- 170-51
3-20Middle Tenn- 675-50
3-25Gonzaga+ 463-60

VIRGINIA

DATE OPPSPREAD SCORE
3-17Hampton- 2381-45
3-19Butler- 8.577-69
3-25Iowa State- 6.584-71

EAST REGIONAL FINAL - Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia (PA)
#6 NOTRE DAME (24-11) vs. #1 NORTH CAROLINA (31-6) - approximately 8:49 p.m. ET, TBS

Heck, we don't want to suggest that ACC rivals North Carolina and Notre Dame arrived at this Elite 8 game from different places but ND has won its three "Big Dance" games by a sum total of 13 points (although they all seemed even closer than that!) while Carolina has won its first three NCAA Tourney games by the grand total of 50 points ... any hoops knucklehead could tell you the Tar Heels are peaking at precisely the right time and now here's senior G Marcus Paige drilling three-pointers like they were suddenly going out of style! Paige banged home 6-of-9 triple tries en route to his sparkling 21-point, 0-turnover game in the rocking-chair 101-86 win/cover versus Indiana last Friday night and that monstrous size advantage that Roy Williams' crew has over any/all foes can't be dismissed here 'cause Notre Dame simply does not match up well up front even with rebounding machine F Zach Auguste (12 boards in 61-56 win against Wisconsin in Sweet 16 action).

Still, the Irish have a little magic working for 'em these days and "injured" head coach Mike Brey (calf muscle) perked up the working media by using the "D" word - as in "destiny" - to help describe his bunch after G Demetrius Jackson practically stole the Badgers' lunch money late in that comeback win against Wisky ... remember Notre Dame lost to North Carolina 78-47 in the ACC Tournament semifinal round back on March 11th. The Heels were 7.5-point favs back then and right now are listed as 9.5-point betting favorites ... just sayin'!

Now, here's the NCAA Tournament roads that both Notre Dame and North Carolina have travelled so far ...

NOTRE DAME

DATE OPPSPREAD SCORE
3-18Michigan- 370-63
3-20Step. F. Austin- 1.576-75
3-25Wisconsin- 161-56

NORTH CAROLINA

DATE OPPSPREAD SCORE
3-17FGCU- 23.583-67
3-19Providence- 11.585-66
3-25Indiana- 5101-86

 

NOTE: It's the first look at the Final Four in the next edition of Jim Sez ... don't miss out!

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