By Seth Rivello
The month of March is coming to an end but college basketball is still alive. Only four teams are left in the NCAA tournament: Kansas, Villanova, Michigan, and Loyola-Chicago.
Both games take place Saturday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The first game of the night will have West Region winner three-seed Michigan taking on South Region winner 11-seed Loyola Chicago followed by a battle of No. 1 seeds Midwest Region winner Kansas and East Region winner Villanova.
Loyola is clearly the Cinderella story of the tournament, a team that was picked over because of seeding and no one really knew about them. They entered the round of 64 and knocked off Miami (FL), then Tennessee, then Nevada, and most recently Kansas State. If you take out the Kansas State game where Loyola won by 16, through the other three games, Loyola has only won by a total of four points.
The only person I can name from this team is Sister Jean. The sad thing is she isn’t actually on the team and is a nun. She made a bracket and had them going to the Sweet 16 or something and now she’s a mascot, saying that in the most respectful manner as possible.
For Michigan, other than having some struggles against Houston and Florida State, it has been easy. Michigan killed Texas A&M by 27 in the Sweet 16 which showed that it wasn’t a fluke team. Michigan seems to do the same thing in every tournament. Enters the tournament with an average seeding and goes on a hot streak and takes everyone out.
I say Michigan beats Loyola by at least ten and puts the Ramblers to sleep. No more Sister Jean and no more Cinderella story. Then on Monday in the championship game, Michigan gets murdered.
The battle of the number one seeds Villanova and Kansas is a great match-up and pretty even all around. I feel Kansas had a tougher run to get here while Villanova coasted through.
West Virginia gave Villanova the most trouble but it ended in a 12-point win.
Kansas took a tough Duke team to overtime after Grayson Allen couldn’t get the game winner to fall and end Kansas’s season. Seton Hall and Clemson also kept it close but Kansas was able to play as a team because unlike many teams now, they have veterans, lead by seniors Devonte’ Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, plus an undervalued junior, Lagerald Vick.
Villanova also has experienced players but I don’t see them at the same level as Kansas.
Kansas has those veteran guys but also young guys like Malik Newman and Udoka Azubuike who can stuff the stat sheet. This game is going to be great and possibly the most exciting of the whole tournament but I do see Kansas pulling out a win to advance into the championship.
In my mind, it’s a championship match-up of Michigan and Kansas. Both teams riding a big wave since winning their conferences and making it all the way but I can’t pick against Kansas. This team is just too powerful and filled with talent, the only thing lacking is a bench.
Bill Self adds another championship and puts it right next to the one he got ten years ago.