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College basketball NCAA tournament preview: Big Ten going for history

Frank Kaminsky celebrates by cutting down the net
Frank Kaminsky celebrates by cutting down the netPhoto by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Wisconsin Badgers and Florida Gators were the first two teams to earn Final Four berths on Saturday. Now we have four more teams ready to complete their journey to Dallas.

While it’s been a team effort throughout the tournament, Saturday’s winners saw their main offensive guy step up in tremendous ways. Frank Kaminsky led the Badgers with 28 points and 11 rebounds. Scottie Wilbekin paced the Gators with 23 points, and his clutch shooting blew the game open in the first half.

If Sunday’s games stay true to form, the big stars will be a major factor for the victors. So far, Adreian Payne has been dynamite on both ends of the floor for Michigan State. However, Payne hasn’t been the only player on a team full of stars. Branden Dawson has been a prolific force while attacking the rim.

Check out CBS Live Blog of the Elite 8.

UCONN has had no shortage of big time plays from their playmakers as well. Shabazz Napier has been locked in, channeling his inner Kemba Walker, to take the Huskies to the Elite 8. Napier has scored (24, 25, 19) points in the first three games in the tournament. His explosiveness will be necessary for the Huskies to join the Final Four fun in Dallas.

In the Midwest, Kentucky and Michigan are trying to produce the final team in Dallas. When the tournament started not many people thought Kentucky would be in this position, but the young ‘Cats are here for a reason.

Michigan has gotten off to incredibly fast starts, but their second half performances haven’t been quite up to par. Still, they’ve had enough of a cushion to keep advancing. The Wolverines held on for dear life after coasting against Tennessee most of the game.

Michigan uses a lot of wing players, so their rebounding as a team needs to be on display. To hold Julius Randle off the offensive glass will be one of the toughest things left to do in the tournament.

Joel Embiid missed NCAA tournament but headed to NBA.

Injuries have a played a factor in the tournament for a couple teams, and there could be another one on Sunday. Willie Cauley-Stein is likely out of the game with an injured ankle. He’s Kentucky’s best shot blocker and his lack of presence could be the difference on Sunday.

If Michigan and Michigan State move on, the Big 10 will have three teams in the Final Four. The only other time that happened was in 1985 when three Big East teams (St. John’s, Villanova, Georgetown) made it to the final weekend.

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