Two games -- and two spots in the Final Four -- are up for grabs Saturday. Although the seeds don't really bear it out -- Marquette-Syracuse looks like it should be a barnburner, Wichita-Ohio State looks like a mismatch -- both should be pretty interesting, as the Shockers have shown their mettle by knocking off teams of Ohio State's caliber this tourney.
Marquette and Syracuse are playing for the last time as members of the same conference, but only one gets to stay alive for a shot at the national title. And Ohio State's path to Atlanta has been made much easier by the huge amount of upsets in the West Region, but they've still had some anxious moments as the team has escaped with last-second game-winners twice.
Here's a look at each game. Both games are on CBS.
4:30 p.m. ET: No. 3 Marquette (26-8, 14-4, Kenpom ranking 24) vs. No. 4 Syracuse (29-9, 11-7, Kenpom ranking 9)
With Syracuse leaving for the ACC and Marquette going to the new Big East, this is the last time these two will meet in their relatively short time in the same conference. A team from upstate New York and a team from Wisconsin don't exactly seem like rivals, but they've had some good matchups, including a 2011 tourney matchup where 11-seeded Marquette downed 3-seeded Syracuse.
Both teams come in hot: Marquette needed a slew of late threes and an ill-advised press break by Davidson to earn a last-second win over the 14-seeded Wildcats in the first round, then won after trailing by eight at the half against Butler in their next game, but crushed Miami behind solid defense in the Sweet 16, winning 71-61 after leading by as much as 21. The Orange has had no such troubles. Their closest matchup so far was a six-point win over Cal, and they crushed a top-seeded Indiana team that had tourney hopes when the Hoosiers couldn't do anything against the 2-3 zone.
The Golden Eagles have proven they can do things against the 2-3 zone -- Davante Gardner hit all the right spots in a February matchup, finishing with a ridiculous 26 points on seven shots, hitting all seven and going to the line 13 times. Buzz Williams knows what to do despite having a poor shooting team that shouldn't really have a chance against a squad that zones up. On the other sideline, Michael Carter-Williams might have played the best game of his career in his last game, dropping 24 on Indiana.
7 p.m. ET: No. 2 Ohio State (29-7, 13-5 Big Ten, Kenpom ranking 5) vs. No. 9 Wichita State (29-8, 12-6 MVC, Kenpom ranking 20)
There's one game left in one of the craziest regions in recent memory, and although Marquette-Syracuse will get all the hype, this is the one between two top-20 teams according to Ken Pomeroy's numbers.
The Buckeyes are in the Elite Eight, but it hasn't been easy. After a breeze over No. 15 Iona, they had games which came down to the wire against Iowa State and Arizona. Twice, they were able to hold for the last shot, and each time, they gave the ball to someone that might not have been expected. All eyes were on Deshaun Thomas, who's been their best player all year, averaging 19.7 points per game and displaying his ability to score at will in the best conference in America. But Aaron Craft, who isn't particularly gifted with his jumper, drilled a three against the Cyclones, and LaQuinton Ross caught a pass from Craft, turned, fired, and hit from about 26 feet against Arizona.
Meanwhile, the Shockers have looked much, much better than a 9 seed. First, they blasted Pitt, winning by 18. Next up was No. 1 Gonzaga, and they drilled 14 threes -- a bit of an outlier considering they're pretty average from deep on the year -- to win, 76-70, after the Zags tried to rally back after going down by double digits early, then allowing Wichita State to hit five straight threes. And La Salle was just outmatched, being doubled up 44-22 just after the break.
Barring another ridiculous shooting outing, this matchup will come down to whether Ohio State can keep Wichita State off the boards. The Shockers thrive on the glass, with Carl Hall and Cleanthony Early finishing in the top two on the team in scoring and rebounding. Ohio State's not really an elite rebounding team -- Thomas helps out, Evan Ravenel has an above-average rate -- but they'll have a size advantage on Hall and Early, both of whom are 6'8 and bank on athleticism to grab boards.