This years NCAA tournament has been one full of upsets, underdogs and magical moments. One of the biggest upsets in sports history seems like all but a memory at this point as we have reached what all teams strive for each year: The Final Four. This year the Final Four has two very interesting match ups where on one side we have 11th seeded Loyola of Chicago facing off against Michigan. On the other side we have the team that will probably be the betting favorite come Monday, either top seeded Villanova or top seeded Kansas. With three games remaining in the college basketball season all eyes will be on San Antonio as we are just a few days away from crowning a new National Champion.
Game 1: Michigan vs Loyola Chicago. 6:09 EST
At this point a lot of fans including myself are on the Loyola bandwagon and pulling for the Ramblers to become the lowest seed ever to reach the national championship game and even win it all. Michigan however is by far the toughest team they will have faced to this point. Not only are the Wolverines talented but like Loyola they have a lot of momentum. With that being said here are some things to watch in that match up.
This game is all about offense, and I say that because both of these teams have strong defenses that can easily hold the other team under 60 points. While neither teams offense is what I would call elite both offenses have play-makers and have the ability to put up big scores. One thing to watch for is the shot selection for Loyola. The Ramblers have the third highest field goal percentage in the nation where as Michigan is ranked 53rd in the nation in that category. I think for this game especially the stats don't really matter especially when you have two teams who have come in as hot as these teams are with Michigan winning 13 straight and Loyola coming in with 14 straight wins.
Loyola has been down in many of the games they played in the tournament and managed to work their way back to win. This game I don't think they can afford to do that. If Loyola wants to win they need to be close or in the lead for most of the game. If they get down by double digits to Michigan they will have a very hard time coming back. Michigan on the other hand I think needs close strong. The Ramblers are a team that steps it up late. If the Wolverines want to win they will need to have a lead and step on the pedal late and put the Ramblers away. My prediction. Michigan wins 74-69.
Game 2 Villanova vs Kansas. 40 minutes following game 1
It is somewhat surprising to see two 1 seeds in the Final Four considering how this tournament has gone. Villanova and Kansas have both been popular picks to win it all and they have not disappointed yet. Both teams could easily win this game and dominate in the National Championship but it will come down to who shows up to play.
Villanova has one of the best offenses in the nation and has as many weapons as anyone. Kansas on the other hand is a very balanced team. Kansas will need to show up offensively if they want to win this game. They will probably not hold Villanova under 70 but if they can keep them under 80 which a lot of teams struggle to do. If Kansas can come out hot offensively and not fall behind I think they have the ability to win this game and will. If Villanova wants to win this I think they need to jump out to a lead of about 5-7 with about 5 minutes left. If they can build that lead then it will be hard for Kansas to come back that quickly with a team that is a good free throw shooting team that plays as smart as they do. My prediction: Villanova wins 79-72