Being one of the last four teams standing is an amazing feat in itself. The Final Four is finally here and it has the ingredients to be a memorable one. A few things are required to make this happen.
We have a true “Cinderella” in the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers. There is the blue blood program with the Kansas Jayhawks. Then you have on the cusp of joining the blue blood fraternity in the Villanova Wildcats. Lastly, you have one of the premier brands with the Michigan Wolverines. Every great tournament has a compelling story. Enter Loyola-Chicago’s 99 year old good luck charm/spiritual leader, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt. She has captivated the basketball world with her wit, charm and basketball knowledge.
Game one has the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers taking on the Michigan Wolverines. The Ramblers are led by guard Clayton Custer but he is not alone. Four other players, Cameron Krutwig, Donte Ingram, Marques Towns and Andre Jackson, also average double digit points. This makes it difficult to focus on one player to stop. They gang rebound very well. Their defense is about positioning and helping. Offensively, they want to spread you out to attack the basket and hit three point shots.
The Wolverines are led by big man Moritz Wagner. He is a versatile player who can hurt you from inside or out. He will need to play well for them to advance. Guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman has been outstanding in the tournament, especially from three point range. The x-factor for this team is Charles Matthews, a very athletic wing who can cause matchup problems when his jump shot is on. Not to be forgotten is freshman hero, Jordan Poole, who can impact the game offensively with big shots.
There is something going on that is guiding the Ramblers on this magic ride…maybe divine intervention? Look for Loyola-Chicago to defeat the Wolverines in a nail biter.
Game two pits the Villanova Wildcats against the Kansas Jayhawks. The Jayhawks are led by guards Devonte’ Graham and Malik Newman. They have carried them thus far. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk needs to play better, his shooting could open up the floor. If center Udoka Azubuike plays well, they have a great chance to advance. He’s the only potential mismatch on the court. They must dominate the boards and get easy baskets in transition to come out on top.
Villanova is led by guard Jalen Brunson, their steadying force. There is plenty of talent around him to get it done. Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo, Omar Spellman and Eric Paschall all have the ability to impact the game in different ways. They play terrific defense and are efficient offensively. They must take care of the ball and team rebound for success. Another key for Villanova has been the return of guard Phil Booth and the development of big man Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree to give them depth.
Villanova should make the necessary plays under the leadership of Jalen Brunson and with their team versatility. The Wildcats should advance to the big game.