On the Road to New Orleans: 2012 NCAA Elite Eight Recap

DSPN's NCAA Tournament Recap

Four teams have survived the madness and booked a trip to New Orleans for the 2012 NCAA Final Four. The first national semifinal will feature an in-state clash between bitter rivals Kentucky and Louisville. The nightcap will feature the Ohio State Buckeyes against the Kansas Jayhawks.

Louisville (4) vs. Florida (7)

The Louisville Cardinals were the first to earn their spot with a come from behind victory over the Florida Gators. Louisville ended the game on a 23-8 run highlighted by a go-ahead bucket by freshman Chane Behanan to beat Florida 72-68 in the West Regional Final. Behanan had 17 points and seven boards while Russ Smith added 19 points off the bench.

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino improves to 7-0 against his former player and assistant Billy Donavan. Despite the defeat, the future looks bright as the Gators have a talented recruiting class coming in highlighted by United Faith Christian Academy point guard Braxton Ogbueze and Montverde Academy shooting guard Michael Frazier.

Syracuse (1) vs. Ohio State (2)

Ohio State advanced to the Final Four with a 77-70 victory over Syracuse in the East Regional Final. The Buckeyes were led by Jared Sullinger, who overcame early foul trouble to finish with 19 points and seven rebounds. The Buckeyes received a big boost from Lenzelle Smith Jr. who had 18 points, including three triples.

The loss ends a great season for Syracuse. Sophomore Dion Waiters announced he is entering the NBA Draft. Orange fans now turn their focus to the status of top recruit Nerlens Noel, who has narrowed his choices to Syracuse, Georgetown and Kentucky. If Jim Boeheim can land Noel, the Orange will have a shot of going even deeper next season.

Kentucky (1) vs. Baylor (3)

Kentucky’s fantastic freshmen led the way for the Wildcats 82-70 victory over the Baylor Bears in the South Regional Final. Future lottery pick Anthony Davis had 18 points and 11 rebounds despite dealing with foul trouble and a knee contusion. Fellow diaper dandy Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added 19 points and five boards.

Assuming they choose to leave, Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist figure to be the two top picks in the upcoming NBA Draft. Kentucky will head to New Orleans as the heavy favorite to cut the nets down. The Wildcats are also in the running for Noel. Kentucky has already received commitments from big time recruits Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley.

Baylor has a stellar class coming in highlighted by big man Isaiah Austin, power forward Ricardo Gathers, point guard L.J. Rose and center Chad Rykhoek. Head coach Scott Drew continues to recruit quality talent to Waco and should have the Bears right back in contention next season.

North Carolina (1) vs. Kansas (2)

Rock Chalk Jayhawk. The Kansas Jayhawks out dueled the North Carolina Tar Heels in a highly competitive game in the Midwest Regional Final. Ending the game on a 12-0 run, Kansas defeated UNC 80-67 to book safe passage to New Orleans.

All five starters scored in double figures for Kansas, led by a masterful performance from senior Tyshawn Taylor who scored 22 points with six rebounds, five assists and five steals. Big man Thomas Robinson added 18 points and nine boards for KU.

The Tar Heels should lose a few players to the NBA but Roy Williams is ready to reload with an excellent recruiting class featuring point guard Marcus Paige, power forward Brice Johnson, J.P. Tokoto and Joel James.

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Danny "DSPN" Dabiri (Editor)