Villanova will reign over truly mad NCAA month

When the time rolled around for the yearly basketball tournament centered around 64 teams all competing to call themselves the best, I told myself I wasn’t going to watch. I said to myself that I wasn’t going to get sucked into the wormhole of meaningless blowout games and second-half surges.

But, it happened. I made it to three games into the tournament before I was trapped in the spiderweb of March college basketball. By the time the horn rang and UMBC knocked off the best team in the tournament by 20 points, there was no going back.

Now, with four teams left, it is finally coming to an end. Which team will win? I’ll show you.

Loyola began its treacherous road in Dallas against a Miami team that was one of the weakest in the bracketing. Many picked them to beat Miami, a feat that doesn’t happen much. The game was tight all the way through the end. Both teams battled back and forth giving and taking three-pointers. With four seconds left on the clock, Donte Ingram pulled up from the edge of the center court logo and drained an icy three-pointer with four-tenths of a second remaining. The Ramblers were mere inches away from getting sent home in the first round.

It took them three games before their margin of victory was above two points. In the round of 32, Clayton Cluster threw up a miraculous shot that bounced high above the backboard before falling gracefully into the basket, ending Tennessee’s chances of moving on.

Next came Nevada, the Ramblers toughest opponent yet. The previous game involved the Wolfpack setting the record for largest comeback in NCAA tournament history, and this game was no different. After Nevada’s set of twin guards trading three-pointers with Loyola, Marques Townes drained a devastating three-pointer with seconds to go, ruining Nevada’s chances.

Kansas State was the only game in the tournament that didn’t cause Sister Jean heart palpitations. After the second half, Loyola’s inside game was too hot for K State to get back into a scoring groove. Now, here lies the 11 seed that no one saw coming. The Ramblers, who beat Northern Iowa in the MVC tournament, have been hot and haven’t cooled off. Expect them to do some damage against Michigan.

Michigan season began with a rocky start. They were by far a mediocre team in an average BIG 10 year, but a durable finish and conference victory gave Michigan a three seed.

A precarious trend has followed Michigan along. Switching between blowout wins and close victories, Michigan’s journey started with a blowby win against the Montana Griz, and 14 points were the difference, giving blue a massive confidence wave into their round of 32 games against Houston.

It was back and forth between the Cougars and Wolverines throughout the whole game. However, Michigan was outplayed, not necessarily on the scoreboard, but on the court. Rob Gray and his man bun were getting sweaty buckets.

But Michigan held on. They fought, and with some luck, found themselves tied with a minute remaining. No points went on the board until 52 seconds past.

Houston’s Devin Davis, who shot 8/10 from the free throw line during the game, missed two crucial attempts that could have put the game on ice. Instead Michigan had time to run a set piece, setting up freshman Jordan Poole with a contested three. Poole rose up, his feet spread wide apart looking like the silhouette from the Jordan brand logo, his retro short-shorts wrapped tight along with his legs, and before Poole landed, the nets swished, and Michigan was moving on.

Their sweet 16 opponent, Texas A&M, was a team that many thought would give teams fits in the tournament. Not the case with Michigan. Unlike their elite eight opponents Florida State, the game was uneven from the beginning.

Speaking of Florida State, the game was close, but not that close. While the score was tight heading down the stretch, Michigan had complete control on both sides of the floor. Michigan is a team that nobody expected to do well, but don’t expect them to dominate Loyola.

Villanova played Radford, Alabama, West Virginia and Texas Tech. None of those games were close. Villanova is a team that, when playing well, control March Madness. They did that last year up until they won the big dance. Their controlling grasp is hard to escape. They choke teams with their strong, captivating defense. Then they run the floor on fast breaks and set up easy buckets from either behind the arc or inside the paint.

Nova is a very well coached team by J Wright. Against Kansas’ Bill Self, this matchup will be a game of heavy strategy. It will be a game of fundamentals, passing the ball and looking for the least contested shot. Kansas will be looking to get most of their points in the paint, considering their strong forwards Azubuike and Newman.

Villanova is a strong, good, young team. Expect them to be here a lot in the coming years. I don’t think that Kansas has the upper hand in talent or skill, considering that I don’t see Villanova playing to Kansas’ strengths. I think it will be Nova moving on to the title.

No one expected Kansas to be here. It was an off year, but they still managed to do the typical Kansas feats. They won the Big 12 outright, taking both the tournament title as well as the regular season title. They took a one seed, but many called them the weakest first seed. They had to battle through their bracket; none of their games were blowouts aside from their first-round victory against the bottom seed Penn.

Seton Hall gave them a tough time in which I thought the Pirates would pull away with a victory the way they were shooting the rock, but Kansas’ lockdown defense couldn’t hold Seton Hall in the second half. They scored 53 points (one better than Kansas’ 52) and found the way to beat Kansas in the tournament. Shoot the ball.

Duke couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat Sunday. If they would’ve been able to hit one or two shots in the waning minutes, it would be Duke in this article instead of Kansas. If Kansas wants to win, they need to play smash-mouth basketball and use their bigs down low to get layups, dunks and rebounds. Use their guards to get open around the perimeter to either drive the basket or get open looks from downtown. If Wendell Carter can hit half as many threes as he did in crunch time against Duke, I don’t think that Villanova will have an easy time.

On the other side of the court, Kansas needs to limit threes. It’s killed them in games this tournament. Villanova will most likely hit their shots, but if Kansas can get to their opponents in the zone first, contesting the ball, it won’t be as easy as many think to beat Kansas.

The Final Four is a magical time in basketball. Each team can win. It’s a matter of playing to their potential. Loyola and Villanova will be the final matchup, I think. If that’s the case, I think we could have potentially one of the best final games in the history of the tournament, as long as the teams play their brand of basketball. I think VIllanova will be National Champions.

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