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NCAA Bracket 2011: Setting Saturday's Battleground For Two Final Four Spots

Top seeds dropping like flies - it's more the rule than the exception when March Madness comes around. 

Number one seeds Pitt, Duke, and now Ohio State have rudely been asked to leave the Tournament. Saturday begins the Regional Finals round, and by the end of the day - we'll know two of the teams moving on to Houston for the Final Four.

Southeast Region Final: (8) Butler Bulldogs vs. (2) Florida Gators
The references to Butler's "Cinderella run" need to be held in check. For two years in a row now, this mid-major has made a deep run in the tournament, and they're every bit as capable as the other teams Florida has beaten up until this point.

Butler continued to up their profile on Thursday as they handled fourth-seed Wisconsin for much of the game until the Badgers made a late run. It was another impressive performance by Butler's defense, and the Bulldogs have certainly earned their way to the Elite Eight with wins over Wisconsin, the top-seeded Pittsburgh Panthers, and of course their opening-round win over ninth-seed Old Dominion. There have been no fluky one-win-wonder opponents for Butler, and if Florida overlooks them - they'll be headed home as well.

Florida was able to snuff out BYU in Thursday's victory, earning a spot in the Elite Eight with an 83-74 win over the third-seeded Cougars. Florida's depth presents a problem for every opponent, and you just never know which of their players is going to come up big on a game-by-game basis.

After an opening-round exit from March Madness last year, Florida is now steaming toward Houston. The Gators have won 13 of their last 15 games, and are 25-8 in the Tournament under coach Billy Donovan. 

Prediction: Florida moves on to Houston in a game that will go down to the wire.

West Region Final: (5) Arizona Wildcats vs. (3) Connecticut Huskies
How can the Wildcats possibly top their ruthless beatdown of Duke on Thursday night? Well, they can't. A trip to the Final Four will certainly make them and their fans happy, but college basketball fans as a whole will long remember the relentless public pummeling that Arizona dropped on the Blue Devils, no matter where the 'Cats go from here.

If momentum counts for anything in college hoops, nobody has it in more abundance than Arizona. They barely got by Tournament staples Memphis and Texas, and then beat Duke to death with a 2x4 on national TV. Wielding the lumber was Derrick Williams, who Duke had no answer for. With the possible exception of Kansas, who really haven't played anyone of significance in this tournament - there isn't a team that people want to play less than the Wildcats right now.

Connecticut has managed to quietly take care of business so far in this playoff, without much fanfare. They blew by Bucknell, and had workman-like wins over Cincinnati and San Diego State. The Huskies are battle-hardened this year simply because of their tough Big East Conference schedule, which produced an incredible 11 tournament teams. The Huskies also won their conference tournament, including wins over Syracuse, Louisville, and Pitt.

While Connecticut's Big East Tournament and now March Madness runs have been impressive, the overwhelming nature of Arizona's recent performances has me thinking the Wildcats are the favorites to win this game despite their lower seeding. 

Prediction: I don't think I'll be picking against Arizona for as long as they last in this tournament. This one will be close with Arizona pulling away late.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.