NCAA men’s basketball tournament action on a Monday night is nothing new. The championship game has been staged on that nights for decades now.
But Monday and Tuesday Elite Eight action is new for this year thanks to the tournament’s altered schedule. Hopefully, the different time slots will not affect the high drama with spots in the Final Four on the line.
Here’s a breakdown of Monday’s games, with predictions 100% guaranteed to be completely correct or totally wrong.
Midwest Regional Final
No. 2 Houston vs. No. 12 Oregon State, 7:15 p.m. ET, CBS
If you like high-scoring, free-flowing basketball, this won’t be the game for you. Both these teams used lock-down defense to get through the Round of 16, and this will almost certainly be another low-scoring affair. The different defensive philosophies on display, however, will be interesting to observe for hoops purists. The Cougars go almost exclusively man-to-man, but they also know when to switch and how to beat screens. DeJon Jarreau, who did a terrific job shutting down Syracuse’s Buddy Boeheim, will likely turn his attention to the Beavers’ Ethan Thompson. The Syracuse game also gave the Cougars something of a sneak preview of Oregon State’s zone look, though the Beavers generally do a better job finishing stops with defensive rebounds thanks in large part to Warith Alatishe. But if Quentin Grimes finds the range from the arc, Oregon State might not have enough answers.
Prediction: Houston, 56-50.
BRACKETS:Men’s and women’s NCAA Tournament results and schedule
ELITE EIGHT OR SENT PACKING:Winners and losers from the Sweet 16
L.A. STORY:USC and UCLA are in the Elite Eight together for the first time ever
South Regional Final
No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 3 Arkansas, 9:57 p.m. ET, CBS
This one might be more to your liking if you want scoring. Baylor averages 83 points a game, more than any team remaining in the field not named Gonzaga, while the Razorbacks are putting up 81.7. Arkansas isn’t always as secure with the ball, committing 12.8 turnovers a game. While digging out of early double-digit holes has worked out well so far for the Razorbacks, a tendency that for whatever reason also characterized Eric Musselman’s teams at Nevada, that might not be the best plan against the Bears. Baylor survived an unusually cold shooting day from three-point range against Villanova, but don’t expect Jared Butler to let that happen again.
Prediction: Baylor, 85-76.