Who’s in the Final 4? Picks for Easter Sunday Elite 8 NCAA Tournament games

Mar 30, 2024; Portland, OR, USA; The Duke Blue Devils mascot dances during a time out
Mar 30, 2024; Portland, OR, USA; The Duke Blue Devils mascot dances during a time out / Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday was a good day for favorites in March Madness as UConn and Alabama won their respective games and became the first two teams to advance to the 2024 Final Four. The Huskies were dominant, using a 30-0 run to breeze past Illinois in impressive fashion.

Things weren’t quite so simple for the Crimson Tide, who trailed by double digits but battled back to hold off the Clemson Tigers down the stretch. UConn, the defending national champions will now take on Alabama, making their first Final Four appearance in school history.

The other half of the bracket will be settled on Sunday afternoon with a pair of very different looking matchups. We’ve got the underdog darlings of the ACC on one side, and the mighty favorites on the other side, each boasting National Player of the Year candidates.

1 Purdue (-3.5) vs 2 Tennessee

In the first regional final of the day, we get the class of the Big 10 facing the best of the SEC. Purdue has been cruising through this tournament with a purpose, looking to avenge and erase last year’s epic first-round loss to 16-seed Farleigh Dickinson.

The only prior team that lost to a 16 seed was Virginia, and they followed that up by winning it all the following season. Purdue would obviously love to follow that exact track, but first, they’ll need to get past a very strong Tennessee side.

The Vols have been good but haven’t faced a test nearly this stiff. Purdue is led by All-American big man, Zach Edey, who has been dominating games on both ends with his size. The Vols counter with their own All-American, Dalton Knecht, an incredible scoring wing.

This should be a great matchup, but I’ll take the size and experience of Purdue. I truly think they have a chip on their shoulder from last year and making the Final Four means as much to this program as any in the country. They’ll have some extra motivation on Sunday.

The pick: Purdue 72 - Tennessee 61

4 Duke (-7.5) vs 11 North Carolina State

This is an unlikely regional final matchup as the Wolfpack are on a Cinderella run for the ages that began in the ACC Tournament and included a win over this Duke squad. The Blue Devils are no strangers to these big games, but they did need to upset the one seed, the Houston Cougars to get here.

Duke has been led by their big man, Kyle Filipowski inside and guard, Jared McCain on the outside, both NBA prospects. The Wolfpack have been leaning on a dynamic big man of their own, D.J. Burns.

This will be the third matchup of the season between these familiar foes. Duke won the regular season meeting comfortably before NC State pulled off the upset in the conference tourney.

All signs point to another Duke Final Four, but this is March and I’m riding with the hot team. The Wolfpack are giving off “team of destiny” vibes, and that’s not something I want to bet against. Look for this magical run to keep going on Sunday with another big upset win.

The pick: NC State 82 - Duke 80