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March Madness: The Final Four
March Madness has finally come down to the final four, and the lineup of teams is unlike what most people expected it to be. Loyola-Chicago has captured the heart of the NCAA tournament, becoming the underdogs that no one thought would still be competing. Of all official brackets submitted, only .48 percent of people had Loyola-Chicago in the final four. They will be competing against Michigan, who garnered favor among fans after an impressive Big Ten championship run. On the other side, two of the most elite college basketball teams, Kansas and Villanova will be fighting for their spot in the championship games. Here’s why each team could bring home the title of national champions.
Loyola-Chicago may be the surprise team in the final four, but their play and talent speaks for itself. They have made more than 40 percent of 3-pointers and have demonstrated their ability to play top-tier defense this season. The Ramblers’ offensive capabilities shine greatly on their abilities to draw defenders and allow their shooters to hit threes all night. Their quickness is what helps remain a threat among some of the top defenses, and their 60 percent of shots made inside the arc is something not to be taken lightly. One aspect lacking with this team is the absence of any elite playmakers that can be relied upon, which are present in the other three teams.
The Michigan Wolverines are returning to the Final Four five years after they suffered a loss to Louisville in the national championship game. They are entering with the best defense among the remaining teams. In the Elite Eight matchup against Florida State, they were able to hold them to a 31.4 percent clip from the field. 90 percent of Florida’s shots were contested by the Wolverine defense as well. With this tough defense to crack, it may prove futile for the other teams offense.While their defense is certainly up to par, the Wolverines will need to ramp up their offensive game in order to compete with the heavy hitters on offense they’ll be competing against.
Currently, the Villanova Wildcats are competing at a level that is unmatched in college basketball. They have dominated their opponents during March Madness, with them rolling over Gonzaga, beating them with a double-digit win. Six of their players account for at least 39 percent of the teams 3-pointers. Players like Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges are already top prospects for the coming NBA draft. They have demonstrated the ability to rally on defense as well, with them contesting 86 percent of shots from Texas Tech. The one thing that could lead to the fall of this team is their predictability of play. They have become complacent in their spot at the top, and it could lead to their downfall.
Kansas boasts some of the top college basketball players, with several already said to be securing top spots on an NBA teams roster come this summer. Malik Newman is their lethal threat, with him leading in team scoring six times. He’s sunk 55 percent of his 3-pointer attempts, and even scored an astounding 32-points against their overtime victory against Duke. Plus, the Jayhawk’s possess a backcourt full of elite talent, which will prove dangerous for other teams. Kansas will need to watch out for fouls and missed free-throws if they want their best shot at taking home the title.