For all the talk about March Madness and Cinderella having a chance to win it all, 3 of the 4 brackets held to form. We have three national powerhouse programs in the Final Four and 1 team, no one outside of Chicago knew about, until last weekend. #1 Villanova will play #1 Kansas in the late game on Saturday night and #3 Michigan will play #11 Loyola in the early match-up.
Final Four Preview and Prediction:
March 31st, 2018, 6:09 PM
#11 Loyola (32-5) vs. #3 Michigan (32-7).
For the fourth time in the history of the NCAA Tournament a #11 seed has made the Final Four. The other three teams:
1986: LSU Tigers.
2006: George Mason Patriots.
2011 VCU Rams.
The Tigers, Patriots and Rams all lost and did not make it to Championship Monday. The Ramblers are much better suited to compete for a title. They won their first three games in the NCAA Tournament on last second shots. 98-year-old, super fan, Sister Jean’s prayers were answered. This team is predicated on ball movement, unselfish offense and they give up a good shot for a great shot. Their system allows each player to be involved and lets a different teammate carry the “scoring torch” each night. They have 5 players who average over 10 points per game.
The Michigan Wolverines are one of the best coached team in the country. John Beilein has a career record of 723-417. At 6’6, guard, Charles Mathews should be able to score 20 points and he must if “Big Blue” wants to play for a title. Moritz Wagner leads this team in scoring but he struggled mightily against Florida State. He shot 3-11 from the field including 0-7 from three-point line.
Loyola is the most talented and well coached 11th seed to make the Final Four. They were in a very weak bracket but give them credit, they earned their spot and deserve to be here. History is going against the Ramblers. Since 1991, only 1 team ranked higher than a 4 seed has won the National Championship. That team was the #7, UConn Huskies, who had a magical run to their title in 2014. For this reason alone, I am taking the Michigan Wolverines to get to the Championship. Cinderella’s dance comes to an end. Loyola doesn’t have to go home… but they can’t stay here.
Michigan Wins 74-70.
March 31, 2018, 8:49 PM
#1 Villanova (34-4) vs. #1 Kansas (31-7).
The Kansas Jayhawks needs overtime to defeat a tough Duke Blue Devil team in the Elite 8. Villanova cruised to easy victory over Texas Tech. Both teams deserve to be here and have played solid basketball throughout the year. Many are calling this the “Real” National Championship Game.
For Kansas, Malik Newman had 32 points and 7 rebounds against Duke. He had all 13 points in overtime. Newman can carry his team for a half or a game. Center Udoka Azubuike will have to play better if Kansas wants to get Bill Self his 2nd National Title. That talented big man had 9 points and 8 rebounds before fouling out on Saturday.
Villanova is led by their guard Jalen Brunson. He is averaging 19.2 points and 4.6 assists per game. Mikal Bridges can light up the scoreboard as well, scoring just under 18 points per contest. This team is very well coached and they don’t beat themselves. They don’t have dominant big men, but it hasn’t hurt them up until this point. Head Coach, Jay Wright, gets his opponents to play his style.
Over the past 5 years there hasn’t been two better coaches in the NCAA. Wright is averaging 32.3 wins, with Self averaging 29.4 wins per year. I must assume that Villanova’s lack of points in the paint will eventually come back to haunt them. Newman is playing the best basketball of anyone in the country and he literally carried his team to the victory over Duke. Look for Azubuike to have a 15-point, 15 rebound game with Devonte Graham coming up big as well. The whole basketball world is picking Villanova. I am not.
Take Kansas to win this game 81-77.
Follow The Sports Whisperer on Twitter: MonteAJP23.