NCAA Tournament

NCAA men’s basketball tournament previews, TV, tipoff times for March 26 Elite Eight games

Kentucky’s Malik Monk (right) scored 47 points against North Carolina on Dec. 17 in Las Vegas. The Wildcats won 103-100.
Kentucky’s Malik Monk (right) scored 47 points against North Carolina on Dec. 17 in Las Vegas. The Wildcats won 103-100. AP

East Region

At New York

No. 4 Florida vs. No. 7 South Carolina

Time/TV: 2:20 p.m., CBS

What to watch: A funny thing happened on the way to the Villanova-Duke final. For the first time since 1986, SEC teams square off in a regional final. This is the third meeting between the teams this season with the Gamecocks winning 57-53 in Columbia and the Gators holding serve at home 81-66. South Carolina handled Baylor in the Sweet 16 and the Gamecocks’ defense has been outstanding throughout the tournament. South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell is averaging 26 points per game in the tournament. Florida arrived by winning the wildest game of the tournament. Chris Chiozza hit a three-point buzzer beater to beat Wisconsin 84-83 in overtime. The Gamecocks are in the first regional final in program history. The Gators look to return to the Final Four for the first time since 2014.

Prediction: South Carolina 67-63

South Region

At Memphis, Tenn.

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Kentucky

Time/TV: 5:09 p.m., CBS

What to watch: The Wildcats avenged an early-season loss to UCLA in the Sweet 16. Now Kentucky is on the other side of a payback storyline. In December, North Carolina fell to the Wildcats in a wild game in Las Vegas 103-100. Malik Monk scored 47 for the Cats. Against the Bruins, De’Aaron Fox was the hero with 39 points. North Carolina rolled past Butler in its Sweet 16 matchup. The Tar Heels are a terrific rebounding team, the Wildcats can play excellent defense. Expect a track meet, perhaps not on the level of the regular-season meeting. Kentucky is 20-1 when it outscores opponents in the paint. The Wildcats are a good perimeter shooting team but must find ways to score inside.

Prediction: North Carolina 90-87

Blair Kerkhoff: 816-234-4730, @BlairKerkhoff

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