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NCAA Tournament Elite Eight Rooting Guide Day One

There are only eight teams left.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional-Purdue vs Kansas Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

And then there were eight.

That’s right, the field of 68 has been whittled all the way down to eight and today marks the beginning of the next leg of our journey: the Elite Eight. Even though Cincinnati hasn’t been that far in the NCAA Tournament since 1993, as fans of the game of college basketball as a whole, there is still reason to watch, and even cheer, during today’s matchups. Here’s what I’ll be keeping my eye on, and what you should too as my blind follower reader.

No. 11 Xavier vs. No. 1 Gonzaga

Region/Location: West/SAP Center, San Jose, California

Time/Channel: 6:09 p.m./TBS

Line: Gonzaga -9

Who to root for: I’ll save a nasty comment about how Xavier is horrible. Obviously the Musketeers are having a magical run in March and that isn’t great to see from the Bearcats side. Luckily, we don’t have to pick between Trevon Bluiett and company and a boring favorite like North Carolina or Kentucky. Gonzaga isn’t just the best mid-major in the country, it could very well be the best team period. Plus what other team features the stylings of the 300-pound comeback kid known as Przemek Karnowski? Not Xavier. #BeatX

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 3 Oregon

Region/Location: Midwest/Sprint Center, Kansas City, Missouri

Time/Channel: 8:49 p.m./TBS

Line: Kansas -5

Who to root for: If you’ve been following along with these rooting guides, you’ll know that the staff of Down the Drive is firmly seated on the Frank Mason III bandwagon. Mason was excellent during Kansas’ demolition of Purdue in the Sweet 16. He scored 26 points on 9-of-11 shooting while adding seven assists and as many rebounds. Such a performance was a treat to watch and something I’d love to see again in the Elite Eight. Of course, I am not advising blind loyalty to Kansas all of a sudden (sorry, Rock Chalk Talk), but I’m not sure Oregon is the team to change my mind about rooting interest, mainly because of Dillon Brooks. While a talented basketball player, when you enter his name in Google the first autofill search term is flop. Nobody wants to root for a flopper.