College basketball has reached the final weekend. We have arrived with two powerhouse programs, one highly underrated basketball program, and Cinderella herself. The question remains, which team will cut down the nets come Monday night?
Let’s jump right into previews and predictions for each game:
#11 Loyola (Chi) vs. #3 Michigan 6:09 PM EST TBS
Sister Jean and the Ramblers take on arguably the most underrated coach in college basketball. Michigan has not lost since February 6th. Loyola has not lost since January 31st. These are two teams that got hot at the absolute right time and a fire will be extinguished Saturday night.
Loyola has the entire nation rooting for them, three of their four tournament victories have been by two points or less. They have the darling of March in Sister Jean. They truly are a Cinderella story. Let’s not discount their basketball skill, although they don’t have NBA talent this team is extremely skilled. They play a team game led by Clayton Custer who leads the team in points per game and assists per game. They look to give Michigan a very competitive game. Let’s also give credit where it is due, I called this run before the tournament started
Michigan on the other hand has some NBA talent and a coach to match. John Beilein has been talked about throughout college basketball as the best coach in the nation. He has led his team to the Final Four now twice in the last six years. The Wolverines have a NBA talent in Moritz Wagner. They rolled through the Big Ten Tournament, NCAA tournament, and now find themselves staring right into Sister Jean’s soul.
My head tells me Michigan will roll into their second NCAA final in 6 years, my heart tells me to stick with my bold prediction before the tournament started. I am going with the Ramblers to continue their Cinderella run.
#1 Kansas vs. #1 Villanova 8:49 PM EST TBS
Whereas the first game lacks NBA talent, this game does not fall short in that category. Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, Devonte Graham, Malik Newman, and Omari Spellman all look to get a shot with an NBA team after this is all said and done.
In my opinion, Villanova has been the most complete team in college basketball this season. They have multiple people who can beat you on the offensive end and they play solid enough defense to get by. Villanova has solidified itself as the best program in college basketball in the last 5 years. They have now made the final four twice in that time, winning the National Championship in 2016. They have dominated the Big East during this time period and have become a college basketball powerhouse.
Kansas struggled early in the season to find its identity but has come on strong the second half of the season. They have won 14 straight Big 12 titles but have struggled when it came to March. Bill Self and his Jayhawks have only made it to the Final Four three times during this impressive 14 year streak. They will have a tough task at hand trying to stop the Villanova offense.
This will be an offensive battle as Kansas is no slouch on the offensive side of the ball themselves. I am going to stick by my predictions early on and stay with Villanova in this one. They are just too well rounded of a team in my opinion.
Should be a fun Saturday of basketball, will Cinderella’s story continue? Will Bill Self kill off his March demons? Can Michigan once again reach the title game? Will Villanova continue this dominant stretch of basketball? This is March so anything can happen, stay tuned folks!