The Elite 8 tips off tonight at 6:09 PM EST, and the madness has been constant. Hopefully, it will continue. Most previews are offering insight into matchups, who they think will win, what bets to make, etc. But here, we aren’t doing any of that. It’s time to have some fun and compare some teams to some Sonic the Hedgehog characters in a completely meaningless way.
FAU vs Kansas St (6:09PM EST)
Florida Atlantic. Primal. Weird. Energetic. A bit paranoid. Frantic but effective, the FAU Owls boast both a top-30 offense and defense according to KenPom. The Owls shoot 36.5% from 3-point range, which is good for 45th in the country. The Owls went from never winning a tournament game to now being in the Elite 8. And just like Sticks, they would surely love a shiny trophy.
To do so, they will need more big games out of sophomore guard Johnell Davis, who has been fantastic this entire tournament. He is averaging 18.6 points per game in the tournament.
Sonic (Kansas State):
This choice might be surprising at first glance. However, they’re a team with extreme confidence in their ability. An undersized point guard running the show that has America in love with passing once again.
One of the fastest teams remaining in the tournament, Kansas State is the Sonic the Hedgehog of the Elite 8. Kansas St is 43rd in KenPom’s adjusted tempo at 69.9, good for second in the tournament. They are 41st in possessions per game at 73.3, which is the top mark remaining in the Elite 8.
They are not the most highly regarded team, ranking just 20th in KenPom and 23rd in T-rank, but the combination of elite guard play from Markquis Nowell and fantastic wing play from Keyontae Johnson might be enough to get this team that finished second-to-last in their conference last year to pull off a miracle and perhaps make it to a National Championship game.
UCONN vs Gonzaga (8:49PM EST)
A bit (a lot) slower than Gonzaga and Kansas State, UCONN will rely on their strength and skill to win this game. Connecticut is not the best defense remaining, but they hold their own on that end. They rank 14th in KenPom’s adjusted defense. The Huskies are an elite offense, ranking third in KenPom on that end. UCONN is 1st in KenPom and second in T-Rank overall.
They are led by physical big man Adama Sanogo, but guards Tristen Newton and Jordan Hawkins will be their keys to success. They face an extremely difficult test in Gonzaga, but they definitely have enough to be able to win it all.
Gonzaga is one of the fastest teams remaining in the tournament. The Bulldogs are 44th in the country, averaging 73.3 possessions per game, the second-best among the remaining teams. Gonzaga has the highest KenPom adjusted tempo of any remaining teams, at 70.2, which is good for 39th in the country. They have a difficult test in UCONN, the top team in KenPom, and 2nd in Bart Torvik’s T-Rank.
The Bulldogs are a team that some people dislike because of their recent success and their failure to win it all. However, despite many people’s dislike for the program, they are a team, like Shadow, that can be fun to root for, even if they are the “villain”. If Drew Timme can have another monster performance, they might just have a chance.