Men’s NCAA Tournament 2023: Ultimate Guide to the Elite Eight
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Gonzaga’s Julian Strawther, Anton Watson and Drew TimmeAP Photo/John Locher
The 2023 men’s NCAA tournament field is down to the Elite Eight.
On Thursday, No. 3 seed Kansas State outlasted No. 7 seed Michigan State in overtime, No. 4 UConn cruised to victory over No. 8 Arkansas, No. 9 Florida Atlantic pulled off an upset of No. 4 Tennessee, and No. 3 Gonzaga beat No. 2 UCLA on a game-winning three-pointer from Julian Strawther.
Friday night’s action began with both remaining No. 1 seeds sent packing by a pair of No. 5 seeds. San Diego State used its slow tempo and lockdown defense to upset Alabama, and Miami hung 89 points on a Houston defense that was among the best in the nation all year.
The late games were a bit more lopsided, as No. 6 seed Creighton and No. 2 seed Texas both advanced with double-digit victories over No. 15 seed Princeton and No. 3 seed Xavier, respectively.
Now it’s time for our Elite Eight preview before action resumes Saturday evening.
Ahead you’ll find the schedule for Saturday’s and Sunday’s games and then a complete breakdown of each of the four games on tap with a spot in the Final Four on the line.
Schedule and TV Info
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FAU’s Alijah Martin (No. 15) and Nicholas Boyd celebrate their win over Tennessee.Al Bello/Getty Images
No. 3 Kansas State vs. No. 9 Florida Atlantic, 6:09 p.m. ET, TBS
No. 3 Gonzaga vs. No. 4 Connecticut, 8:49 p.m. ET, TBS
No. 5 San Diego State vs. No. 6 Creighton, 2:20 p.m. ET, CBS
No. 2 Texas vs. No. 5 Miami, 5:05 p.m. ET, CBS
No. 3 Kansas State vs. No. 9 Florida Atlantic
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Kansas State’s Markquis NowellBen Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images
Kansas State Scouting Report
The Wildcats have leaned heavily on the duo of Markquis Nowell (17.2 PPG, 8.1 APG) and Keyontae Johnson (17.7 PPG, 6.9 RPG) on the offensive end all season, and the duo has shined in the NCAA tournament. The key to success will be continuing to win the turnover battle. The Wildcats have forced 44 turnovers and coughed it up just 27 times, including single-digit giveaways their last two games.
Florida Atlantic Scouting Report
The Owls are 24-0 this season when they allow fewer than 72 points, and that includes all three of their NCAA tournament victories. After playing an easy regular-season schedule, that defense has held up against Memphis and Tennessee, and it will need to show up again if they’re going to keep the Cinderella story going. Johnell Davis leads a deep nine-man rotation, and he is averaging 18.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game in the NCAA tournament.
Tournament Standout: Markquis Nowell, Kansas State
After an impressive 20-point, 19-assist performance against Michigan State on Thursday in which he set the single-game tournament record for assists, Nowell is averaging 21.3 points and 14.0 assists in the dance. The Wildcats are 10-0 when he has double-digit assists, so while his scoring prowess is important, it’s his abilities as a facilitator that could be the X-factor.
No. 3 Gonzaga vs. No. 4 Connecticut
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Drew TimmeSean M. Haffey/Getty Images
Gonzaga Scouting Report
The Bulldogs can light up the scoreboard with the best of ’em, leading the nation with 87.0 points per game while ranking No. 1 in KenPom.com’s adjusted offensive efficiency. They don’t just like to play uptempo, they need to, evidenced by their 2-5 record in games when they score fewer than 75 points. There is not a more reliable go-to scorer left standing in the tournament field than Drew Timme.
UConn Scouting Report
The Huskies have a plus-40 rebounding advantage through three games, and they are averaging nearly six more rebounds per game than their opponents on the year. That will need to continue to be a strength for them to advance to the Final Four. Star forward Adama Sanogo (23.3 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 1.3 BPG) is having a terrific NCAA tournament, but the X-factor is Jordan Hawkins. He can get hot from the outside at any time and had a game-high 24 points against Arkansas.
Tournament Standout: Drew Timme
After averaging 27.3 points and 11.3 rebounds in three NCAA tournament games last year, Timme has continued to add to his impressive March Madness resume. The 6’10” senior is putting up 28.3 points per game on 62.1 percent shooting in this year’s tournament, and he went off for 36 points on 16-of-24 shooting against UCLA on Thursday.
No. 5 San Diego State vs. No. 6 Creighton
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Ryan KalkbrennerAndy Lyons/Getty Images
San Diego State Scouting Report
The Aztecs clinched their spot in the Elite Eight by holding a stacked Alabama team to just 64 points on 32.4 percent shooting and 3-of-27 from beyond the arc. Slowing down the tempo has been their key to success all year, and they are now 21-0 in games in which they limit the opposition to 65 or fewer points. They rank No. 4 in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency, and that will continue to be their ticket to success.
Creighton Scouting Report
The Blue Jays lean heavily on their starting five of Ryan Kalkbrenner, Trey Alexander, Baylor Scheierman, Ryan Nembhard and Arthur Kaluma, with that group accounting for nearly 85 percent of the team’s points this year. They have size inside with Kalkbrenner, a knockdown perimeter shooter in Scheierman and great guard play that helped them average just 11.6 turnovers per game. They are looking more and more like the team that began the year No. 9 in the preseason AP poll.
Tournament Standout: Ryan Kalkbrenner, Creighton
One of the most productive post players in the country, Kalkbrenner entered the NCAA tournament averaging 15.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game, and he has taken his game to another level during March Madness. The 7’0″ junior had 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting Friday against Princeton, and he is averaging 21.0 points on 66.7 percent shooting through three tournament games.
No. 2 Texas vs. No. 5 Miami
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Isaiah WongGregory Shamus/Getty Images
Texas Scouting Report
The Longhorns are playing their best basketball of the year right now on the defensive end, and they set the tone in Friday’s win against Xavier by holding the Musketeers to 1-of-13 shooting to start the game. On the offensive end, Marcus Carr leads a well-balanced attack that has gotten unexpected contributions from Dylan Disu and Christian Bishop and a strong tournament run from Sir’Jabari Rice. When the dust settled Friday night, they were the highest-seeded team still standing in the tournament field.
Miami Scouting Report
The Hurricanes lit up a vaunted Houston defense for 89 points on Friday night, knocking down 11-of-25 three-point attempts to hang a season-high point total on the Cougars. Isaiah Wong won ACC Player of the Year honors this season. But it was Nijel Pack who led the offensive attack in the Sweet 16, and both Jordan Miller and Norchad Omier also average double figures for a high-powered offense that ranks No. 6 in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency.
Tournament Standout: Isaiah Wong, Miami
Isaiah Wong took home ACC Player of the Year honors by averaging 16.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game heading into the NCAA tournament. The 6’3″ guard had an ugly game against Drake in the first round, scoring just five points on 1-of-10 shooting, but he had 27 points and eight rebounds against Indiana in the second round and 20 points, six rebounds and three assists Friday against Houston. The Hurricanes have a ton of weapons offensively, but he’s the best of the bunch.