By Jon Rothstein
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LOUISVILLE VS. FLORIDA
BEST INDIVIDUAL MATCHUP: Gorgui Dieng vs. Patric Young
X-FACTORS: Kyle Kuric (Louisville), Kenny Boynton (Florida)
THE SKINNY: A classic showdown between Rick Pitino and his prized pupil Billy Donovan should be great entertainment from the opening tip. The Gators will have ample opportunities to shoot their way to a berth in the Final Four while Louisville should have a distinct advantage on the backboards. Dieng’s evolution has been a major story over the last few weeks and if he continues to control the middle as he did against Michigan State, the Cardinals should advance.
PREDICTION: LOUISVILLE 70, FLORIDA 64
SYRACUSE VS. OHIO STATE
BEST INDIVIDUAL MATCHUP: Scoop Jardine vs. Aaron Craft
X-FACTORS: Dion Waiters (Syracuse), William Buford (Ohio State)
THE SKINNY: The Buckeyes have gotten tremendous play in the NCAA Tournament from lefty forward Deshaun Thomas and they’ll need him to be at his apex on Saturday against the Orange’s 2-3 zone. While Craft has been terrific on both sides of the ball recently, his inability to make outside shots could become a concern. Ohio State will need Buford to pick up some of the slack from the outside and even if he does, it says here Syracuse will survive — again.
PREDICTION: SYRACUSE 73, OHIO STATE 70