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March Madness predictions 2021: Instant picks for the Elite Eight schedule

We give our instant picks for the 2021 NCAA tournament as the matchups for the Elite Eight round are finalized.

Will UCLA have another upset win in the tournament?

Ever heard “think long, think wrong?” Well here are our instant picks as the Elite Eight matchups are etched in stone to make the Final Four in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

You’ll get our quick rapid reaction to each matchup at hand, but don’t worry. We’ll have plenty more analysis this week, but we’re starting with the first gut reaction that of course never fails.

East: Michigan over UCLA

With apologies to the broadcast teams selling us on this new lovably adorable Mick Cronin: If Michigan State didn’t implode in the second half of the First Four, they’re not even here. Johnny Juzang has been terrific, and they played excellent in overtime against Alabama. But Bama didn’t make any shots, and Michigan won’t do that. Wolverines send Cinderella back to Tinseltown.

South: Arkansas over Baylor

The only reason the Razorbacks have had close games in this tournament is their inability to show up in the first half. That won’t happen against a higher-seeded team with a spot in the Final Four on the line. Baylor is of course loaded, especially in the backcourt, but they haven’t looked as cohesive in the bubble and have had a cupcake draw. That ends here.

Midwest: Houston over Oregon State

Ethan Thompson and the Beavers have been the best story in college basketball down the stretch. They’ve been on death’s doorstep for their last six games, and just won them all anyway. But the length and strength of Houston makes this a really challenging matchup. Kelvin Sampson and the Coogs get to the Final Four, and that’s a pretty great story as well.

West: Gonzaga over USC

The Zags are making their case amongst the greatest college basketball teams in history. The Mobley brothers are really good, and we need to start naming Andy Enfield in the elite group of college coaches... but Gonzaga is going to win the national championship as an undefeated team because they are simply overwhelming. We’ll be picking them on Wednesday in this space yet again.