NCAA Tournament

Previews for Saturday’s NCAA Elite Eight games

Updated: 2013-03-29T22:22:17Z

EAST REGION

No. 4 Syracuse vs. No. 3 Marquette, 3:30 p.m. CBS

• What path is more improbable, the Orange reaching this point losing four of its final five in the regular season, including a 74-71 setback at Marquette, or the Golden Eagles, who in the preseason were picked seventh in the Big East race? Either way, the Final Four is getting an unexpected entry and a Big East team in the final year of existence as it’s currently configured. Both teams were impressive regional semifinal winners, the Orange manhandling Indiana, which was befuddled offensively against the 2-3 zone defense, and Marquette dominating Miami. Syracuse and Marquette last made a Final Four together in 2003, the year of Jim Boeheim’s championship. Point guard Michael Carter-Williams makes the Orange go, and Vander Blue leads a Marquette team that broke in four new starters this season.

•  Pick: Syracuse 74-71

WEST REGION

No. 9 Wichita State vs. No. 2 Ohio State, 6:05 p.m., CBS

• Now the Shockers are making it look easy. They never trailed in hammering La Salle to reach their first regional final since 1981, when they beat Kansas in the Sweet 16. Wichita State seeks its second Final Four in school history (1965 was the first), with a squad that gets contributes from several sources. Malcolm Armstead, Carl Hall and Ron Baker were the scorers against Explorers, but Cleanthony Early had come up big in earlier victories over Pittsburgh and top-seeded Gonzaga. Ohio State has become the cardiac kids. The Buckeyes knocked out Iowa State and Arizona with three-pointers in the final seconds and the common threat was point guard Aaron Craft, who beat the Cyclones with his shot and drew the double team and found LaQuinton Ross open for the game-winner against the Wildcats. The only No. 9 seed to reach the Final Four? Penn, in 1979, the first year the tournament was seeded.

•  Pick: Wichita State 77-74

| Blair Kerkhoff, bkerkhoff@kcstar.com

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