The last four teams remain in one of the most unpredictable and thrilling NCAA basketball tournaments in recent memory. The (#3) Michigan Wolverines will face (#11) Loyola-Chicago, as the Ramblers look to continue their improbable journey and keep their Cinderella hopes alive. On the other side of the bracket, the (#1) Villanova Wildcats will play against the (#1) Kansas Jayhawks, in a battle of number one seeds. Each school is under enormous amounts of pressure to succeed, and only one team will be cutting down the nets as national champions. Here is how each team made it to the Final Four and a preview of the upcoming games.
(#3) Michigan Wolverines
The Michigan Wolverines won the West Region as they dominated the (#7) Texas A&M Aggies in the Sweet 16, while narrowly defeating the (#9) Florida State Seminoles 58-54 in the Elite Eight. Many basketball analysts doubted the Wolverines in winning the West Region, as they finished in fourth place in the Big 10 regular season standings. However, Michigan hasn't lost since Feb. 6, as they entered the tournament with a nine-game winning streak, which included winning the Big 10 tournament. The Wolverines can play up-tempo or slow it down in the halfcourt, and Junior PF Moritz Wagner leads the Wolverines in points and rebounds. Wagner looks to continue to play a significant role in the hopes of helping the Wolverines advance to the championship game.
(#11) Loyola-Chicago Ramblers
On the other side, the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers hope to continue to defy odds, as they return to the Final Four for the first time since winning a national championship in 1963. Loyola-Chicago won a thrilling 69-68 game against the (#7) Nevada Wolf Pack in the Sweet 16, while cruising to an easy victory over the (#9) Kansas State Wildcats in the Elite 8. However, the Ramblers will have their hands full against the versatile Michigan Wolverines, as they look to continue their magical season. If they advance to the national championship game, they will be first #11 seed to make it that far in the NCAA Tournament. The Ramblers finished the season with a 32-5 record and will face a tough battle against a talented Michigan team. The Ramblers run a patient offense that focuses on ball movement and gaining 3-point opportunities. Only time will tell, if Loyola-Chicago can continue their story-book season or if the underrated Michigan Wolverines will dash their hopes.
(#1) Villanova Wildcats
The Villanova Wildcats entered March Madness as one of the top favorites, and they have yet to disappoint. The Wildcats won by double digits over (#5) West Virginia in the Sweet 16 and easily handled (#3) Texas Tech in the Elite 8 with a 71-59 victory. However, the Wildcats will be facing the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks in a matchup that features two basketball powerhouses. Villanova PG Jalen Brunson averaged 19 points per game during the season, and he looks to continue his stellar play, as he was named the Most Outstanding Player in the East Region. The Villanova Wildcats lead the nation in scoring with 87 points per game, while also shooting 50% and averaging 12 three-pointers per game. The high-scoring Wildcats will face their most difficult test yet against the Kansas Jayhawks in a game between two of the top basketball teams in the nation.
(#1) Kansas Jayhawks
Winning the Midwest Region was not easy for the Kansas Jayhawks, as they narrowly defeated the (#5) Clemson Tigers 80-76 in the Sweet 16 and won a tightly contested game that went into overtime against the (#2) Duke Blue Devils 85-81. However, these close contests will help prepare the Jayhawks against their toughest opponent yet, as they battle against the high-flying offense of Villanova. G Malik Newman has carried the Jayhawks throughout the tournament with big-time performances against Duke (32 points) and Seton Hall (28 points). Senior PG Devonte' Graham led the team in scoring during the regular season but has not been as dominant during the tournament. The Kansas Jayhawks will need him to step up if they hope to defeat the Villanova Wildcats and advance to the NCAA Championship game.
The Final Four looks to continue the theme of March Madness, as the remaining four teams battle each other to determine who will rise as NCAA Basketball National Champions. Will Loyola-Chicago shock the basketball world or will a traditional powerhouse claim the title? All of these questions and more will be answered as we close in on finishing one of the most exciting NCAA Basketball tournaments.