March Madness: Final Four Preview


photo via wikimedia commons under the Creative Commons license

Siddharth Chandra, Writer

It’s come down to this, the final 4. Only one 1-seed was able to make it through Kansas. Arguably one of the “worse” one-seeds coming into the tournament this was a team that was overlooked by many. A team that was an afterthought in many brackets only making it to Elite 8.

However, they’ve proven throughout the tournament that they are a force to be reckoned with. There were also two 2-seeds who were playing top-notch basketball to make it here, Villanova and Duke. Possibly two of the most storied franchises in the past 10 years, they look to book a spot in the national championship. Duke is looking to cap off coach Mike Krzyzewski’s career with a national title, and that starts in his 13th Final Four appearance.

Villanova was another team that was overlooked as being “overrated’ coming into the tournament. They’ve proven otherwise as a true contender for the title with their wide diversity of talent.

Finally, UNC is the “8” seed. UNC has been playing more like a 2 or 1 seed recently and established themselves as the hottest team in the Final Four. This years final four certainly is not lacking in terms of talent or hype, but the question is, who will etch their names into the history books.

#1 Kansas Jayhawks vs. #2 Villanova Wildcats

Led by their All-American Ochai Agbaji, Kansas will be looking for a shot at another National Championship. In the Elite 8, the Jayhawks started off slow being down to Miami at the half. After halftime, though Kansas seemed to be hitting every shot and Miami had no answer for them. Outscoring Miami 47-15 in the 2nd half displayed what this team is capable of. Even though they didn’t have any scorers over 20 they had 3 double-digit scorers led by Agbaji (18 pt).

The issue for Kansas is that Villanova is a significantly better team than Miami, and they cannot afford a slow first-half with a team like this. Villanova has experience written all over it. Led by Justin Moore, Collin Gillespie and Franklin’s Jermaine Samuels this unit has been plowing through all their opponents.

Although their performance against Houston wasn’t the greatest they got the job done but at a cost. They lost their star guard Justin Moore for the rest of the tournament. Samuels, who recorded a double-double in the Elite 8, and Gillespie will have to pick up an extra load and perform at an even higher level. Led by Coach Jay Wright, this group is one of the only teams that can overcome a loss like this.

Who will win?

Both teams have flaws that are obvious at times. However, those times are limited and it is all about capitalizing on the weaknesses of the other team. If this tournament has proven anything the game is not over until the clocks hit 0. Even if Kansas does get off to a slow start they know how to get themselves together. I also don’t see Villanova’s offensive production being prevalent, so they are going to have won this game on defense. Ultimately the Kansas Jayhawks will come out on top because of their great offensive production.

#8 North Carolina Tar Heels vs. #2 Duke Blue Devils

A matchup for the ages. I’m aware that the media has already been overhyping this game, but they have good reason to. This is the epitome of sports rivalries; it doesn’t get better than this. A line for tickets that stretched on for miles encapsulates the atmosphere of this game. It’s the first time these 2 teams have met in the Bracket, and this is the only time the matchup will include Mike Krzyzewski, the Blue Devils’ head coach. That alone gives the Blue Devils a great advantage, having the GOAT of coaches at the helm.

It also helps that Paolo Banchero is leading a lethal offense that is #1 in efficiency. Krzyzewski is able to use all of his players really well and fit them into their roles perfectly. On the other hand, UNC has one of the only matchups these 2 teams have had this year, and it was a decisive victory.

In that game against the Blue Devils and in the Elite 8 the Tar Heels have been able to outrebound their opponents 81-58. With this rebound dominance led by Armando Bacot (22 rebs in the Elite 8), they have been able to get it to their big guys down low and let them go to work.

Who will win?

It’s brains vs. brawn here. In these types of matchups, it can easily go either way, but UNC is going to keep riding their high tide and take this win. Even though they knocked out tournament favorite St. Peter’s this team has been incredibly hot coming into this game. They also have proven they can easily beat Duke and with this roster having more experience I expect this to be a hard-fought win by UNC. One thing is for sure, both teams will be fighting till the very end for a spot in the national championship.

TV Schedule

Kansas vs. Villanova: 6:09 EST, Sat, April 2nd

UNC vs. Duke: 8:39 EST, Sat, April 2nd

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