This year’s Final Four is definitely an intriguing one. You have three of the top programs in the country but then you also have a classic cinderella team. Loyola has been playing such good basketball that at this point it would not be a surprise if they win the whole thing. However, it won’t be easy and it starts Saturday night against a very good Michigan team. On the other side of the bracket, it’s a matchup between two of the best programs and coaches in colleges basketball.
by Nick Stasiak – Wannamakeaet Staff Writer
Michigan (-5.5) vs Loyola
Michigan was a popular pick to make It to the Final Four but Loyola, not so much. Plenty of people predicted them to knock off Miami in the first round but very few saw a run like this happening. Now Loyola is two wins away from being National Champions. On Saturday they will go up against their toughest competition yet. The biggest challenge for Loyola will be guarding Mo Wagner. So far this tournament Wagner is averaging 12.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Although he had an off game against Florida State, he can shoot the three well. Loyola hasn’t seen a big man like him yet. This should be a very interesting game and while I do think Michigan wins, I don’t think it will come easy. Loyola will fight to the very end.
The Pick: Loyola +5.5
Villanova (-5) vs Kansas
This is a matchup between two teams who play a very similar style of basketball. They are both guard dominated teams who like to shoot the three. The key for Kansas will be if Malik Newman can continue his hot play. During the regular season Newman averaged 13.5 points per game. Since the start of the Big Ten Tournament he is averaging 22.7 points per game. If he continues like this, it makes Kansas even more dangerous. The fear for them is if he falls back more into regular season form and if he does, Kansas could struggle to win. As for Villanova, they have the number one ranked offense in college basketball but they really struggled on Sunday. They did not shoot the ball well but advanced because of their defense. Villanova is an historically good offensive team and I don’t expect them to struggle for a second game in a row. Mikal Bridges and Donte DiVincenzo didn’t have the best weekend last weekend and they both will bounce back. They also have three players on their team with experience playing in the Final Four and that could be big for them. I see a close game throughout with Villanova pulling away in the final few minutes.
The Pick: Villanova -5