And then there were four. This has been a crazy season and a crazy tournament. But now we are left with just four teams. And all four of them are bluebloods. Coach K’s final games. Hubert Davis is in the Final Four in his first season. Kansas is the lone remaining one seed. Villanova is back here yet again and going for their third national title since 2016. This is like a movie script. It is going to be a fun one in the Big Easy.
Final Four Preview
(2) Villanova Wildcats vs. (1) Kansas Jayhawks
As good of a matchup as this is, it is kind of being thrown on the backburner. It is being overshadowed by the other game. This is unfortunate because this should be a great game. These are two really good and talented teams that both possess the capability to win the national championship.
Unfortunately for Villanova Justin Moore tore his Achilles late in their Elite Eight win over Houston, which ended his season. While that is a big peace that the Wildcats will now be missing, there is still a lot of talent and experience on this roster. Collin Gillespie has won two straight Big East Player Of The Year awards and is one of the best point guards in the country. Villanova is 19th in the country in both points against per game and offensive rating.
Kansas has been a different kind of scary recently. For most of the season Arizona State transfer, Remy Martin was either hurt or not living up to expectations. But ever since the Big 12 tournament semifinals, Martin has hit his stride. Since that game, he has averaged 14.8 points per game, including two 20+ point performances in the NCAA tournament. Like Villanova, Kansas has a lot of talent and experience. But the Jayhawks are led by National Player Of The Year candidate Ochai Agbaji. He has been incredible this season and should shine on this big stage.
Both of these teams are in the top ten in adjusted offensive efficiency and top 20 in adjusted defensive efficiency according to KenPom. They seem evenly matched. But I think that the loss of Justin Moore will just be too big of a hurdle for Villanova. Kansas wins.
Prediction: Kansas Jayhawks win
(8) North Carolina Tar Heels vs. (2) Duke Blue Devils.
Oh boy. This is the big one. It really does not need any introduction, but I will give it one anyway. The biggest rivalry in all of basketball is taking place in the NCAA tournament for the first time ever. And not just anywhere in the tournament, but in the Final Four. UNC-Duke games are usually classics, and this one should be no different. Duke is trying to send Mike Krzyzewski off into the sunset with one last national championship, which would be his sixth.
On the other hand, UNC is one of a handful of 8 seeds to make it to the Final Four. The Tar Heels have actually done it once before, back in 2000 under Bill Guthridge. They are trying to become just the fourth 8 seed to make it to the title game and only the second one to win it all. The last was Villanova in 1985 in one of the biggest title-game upsets ever. Plus, you know how badly they want to be the ones to spoil another occasion for Duke and officially send Coach K into retirement.
It’s no secret that Duke has tons of talent. They always do. They have arguably the best frontcourt in the country in Mark Williams and projected top 3 pick Paolo Banchero. The Blue Devils are one of if not the best offensive team in the country. They rank 8th in points scored per game and are first in adjusted offensive efficiency. Duke has been playing a lot better since this tournament began after not really playing well for a month.
North Carolina was firmly on the bubble in late February. Then at the beginning of March, they upset Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium, spoiling Coach K’s retirement party and starting a streak where they have been playing their best basketball of the season. They come into this game having won 10 of their last 11 games. Armando Bacot has been great all year and narrowly missed out on ACC Player Of The Year. Caleb Love and Brady Manek have both dominated in the tournament. The problem though is their lack of depth.
This is also going to be a great game. It really is a toss-up in my eyes. But I just have a feeling that UNC is going to take the win in this one. Tar Heel fans will have bragging rights over Blue Devil fans for a long time. This will be a game that will be talked about forever.
Prediction: North Carolina Tar Heels
Final Four Preview Summary
This could be one of if not the best Final Four in recent memory. So many storylines, and two great matchups. It will be a lot of fun to watch for fans everywhere.
National Championship Prediction: (8) North Carolina Tar Heels vs. (1) Kansas Jayhawks
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