Loyola- Chicago Ramblers vs. Michigan Wolverines (-5.5)
The Final Four begins on Saturday with a matchup of two teams that play a similar style. Strong defense and efficient shooting will be the name of the game. While this game is not considered the main course of the evening it will be the most expensive appetizer the menu can offer.
When breaking down the South Region of the NCAA tournament bracket I listed Loyola-Chicago as a potential bracket buster. When I said that I really only saw them winning the first two rounds. They have shocked myself and the world be making it all the way through the region. Last second shoots and supreme offensive and defensive basketball lead them to the Final Four, no one can argue they earned it. Miami had better athletes, Tennessee was better defensively, Nevada had multiple better scorers, and Kansas State was just bigger, but none of that mattered to the Ramblers besting each playing their brand of basketball. Talk all you want about Sister Jean, this team is good and they have a great chance on Saturday. But I have to follow my instinct on this game.
While the Ramblers are a great story, every story has two possible endings. Happy or Sad. Saturday the Michigan Wolverines will play the role of antagonist. Talk all you want about Michigan having an “easy” journey to the Final Four. They took care of business in each game the way their fellow higher seeds could not. They imposed their will on other teams by smothering them defensively and hitting the big shots. Moritz Wagner will force the lone big man for the Ramblers Caleb Krutwig out of the paint which will open up lanes for Charles Mathews to drive with little to no resistance. Clayton Custer will still make plays but to see another day of above 50% shooting against a John Beilen coached team is just not believable.
The Ramblers will keep it close but eventually Michigan will impose their will on the smaller team. I see Michigan winning by double digits, I will take the 5.5 and run with it.
Prediction: Michigan wins 73-62
Kansas Jayhawks vs. Villanova Wildcats (-5)
While chaos was the theme of the South and West sides of the bracket, two #1 seeds made their way out to the East and Midwest. A battle of two top programs as well as top coaches of our generation takes place on Saturday as the Jayhawks take on the Wildcats. This is the main event of the evening and the world seems split on who will come out on top.
Senior guards will be the main focus with AP Player of the Year Villanova’s Jalen Brunson takes on All-Big 12 point guard Devonte Graham. Villanova has made already taken down two top level Big12 teams defeating both West Virginia and Texas Tech on their way to the Final Four and all the advantages seem to lean towards Nova in this matchup. Multiple scoring options for Villanova make them very dangerous. I believe they will look to attack Udoka Azubuike early to force Bill Self to put in freshman Silvio De Sousa. De Sousa showed immaturity in the Elite Eight matchup with Duke nearly costing Kansas the game. If De Sousa is forced into actions and makes similar mistakes Villanova has the experience to bury the Jayhawks.
I am a huge fan of the job Bill Self has done this year. He has taken his least talented team in years to the Final Four. That has to be respected. Ultimately Villanova is the better team and will advance. While I believe Villanova will advance I am looking at Kansas to cover the 5 points.
Prediction: Villanova wins 77-74