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Wednesday, July 30, 2014
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Maneater Bracketology: Elite 8 preview

As predicted, the higher seeds fared a little better in the Sweet 16 than they did in the first two upset-filled rounds. But we weren't without excitement; No. 5 Butler took down No. 1 Syracuse to get one step closer to the Final Four in their home town of Indianapolis, and No. 6 Tennessee beat No. 2 Ohio State in the best Sweet 16 game.

So now we're down to eight teams, and we should see some really fantastic games. Here's the breakdown by conference, with predictions to follow:

Big 12: Two teams (No. 2 Kansas State, West; No. 3 Baylor, South)

SEC: Two teams (No. 1 Kentucky, East; No. 6 Tennessee, Midwest)

Big East: One team (No. 2 West Virginia, East)

Big Ten: One team (No. 5 Michigan State, Midwest)

ACC: One team (No. 1 Duke, South)

Horizon: (No. 5 Butler, West)

The best matchup, by far, is Kentucky-West Virginia. You've got two coaches who have recently changed teams and haven't missed a step in recreating their legacies. The athleticism on both teams is phenomenal. That's not to take away from any other games, though. Michigan State and Tennessee are both playing their best basketball of the season, underdog Butler is determined to win its way home against Kansas State and Baylor good shock traditional power Duke. So here's I think it'll play out:

Kansas State vs. Butler: I love Butler's determination; we saw Michigan State make a push last year to play a Final Four basically at home in Detroit, and Butler would love to do the same. But they run into a very good Kansas State team led by a single person who seems just as determined to win in Jacob Pullen. My heart says Butler, but my head says the 'Cats advance.

Kentucky vs. West Virginia: I've stuck behind WVU this whole tournament, but the Big East continues to let me down (and I'm sure thousands of others who picked Syracuse, Nova, Pitt, Georgetown, etc. to go far in the tournament). But Kentucky looks downright nasty good this tournament, and I'm going to flip-flop my pick. Two Wildcats advance to the Final Four tonight.

Michigan State vs. Tennessee: The Kalin Lucas injury worries me, especially with how well Tennessee is playing right now. So why should I pick against the Vols? They are the only team to beat both Kansas and Kentucky this season. But the Spartans, led by coach Tom Izzo, are too tough and will get the their second-straight Final Four.

Duke vs. Baylor: OK, so maybe Saint Mary's didn't belong in the Sweet 16 with the likes of Baylor and Duke. But the Bears are playing really well and I think they beat Duke to give the Big 12 half of this year's Final Four.

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