April just began but the craziness of March Madness continues for just a little bit longer this weekend with the NCAA Final Four match-ups of Villanova taking on. Oklahoma and Syracuse battling North Carolina.
This has been a surprising tournament for a lot of fans, with the No. 10 seed out of the Midwest, Syracuse, making it into the Final Four. This is only the fourth time in NCAA history a double digit seed has made it into the Final Four. Facing the top seed out of the East, North Carolina, will be no easy task for the Orange but after unexpectedly defeating Virginia in the Elite Eight they’re going into the game with full momentum.
Villanova vs. Oklahoma will kick off the excitement of the Final Four.
This is a match-up of No. 2 seeds with Villanova out of the South and Oklahoma out of the West. In their last meeting back in December, Oklahoma defeated Villanova in a 78-55 blow out but don’t let those numbers fool you. According to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, which takes into account each team’s strengths, among several other factors, Villanova and Oklahoma both have close to a 50 percent chance of making it to the championship game.
This match-up may prove to be a clash of opposite strengths. Oklahoma’s strong offense will look to take down Villanova’s strong defense and vice versa. Villanova’s defense will have plenty of work to do trying to shut down the Sooner’s 81 points per game average. However, Oklahoma might struggle getting past the Villanova defense that allows just an average of 64 points per game. Villanova coach Jay Wright says he’s preparing for this Final Four differently than he did when he first went to Final Four.
Tip-off for this match-up is set for 6:09 p.m. tomorrow.
Syracuse vs. North Carolina will follow after.
This match up is something very few saw coming. North Carolina was seen in plenty of Final Four picks since October but Syracuse was not. On paper the Tar Heels are a much better team. In their two meetings during the regular season UNC took both wins. UNC ranks first in the nation in two point attempts and makes and rank second in the nation for offensive efficiency and rebounds. The ‘Cuse has a lot on their plate for this game but they have proven to be a story of the successful underdog after defeating Virginia in the Elite Eight.
Players to be on the look out for are Michael Gbinije for Syracuse and Brice Johnson for North Carolina.
Gbinije, the senior guard, averages 18 points, four rebounds, and four assists per game this season. In the game against Virginia, he was able to help Syracuse escape a loss with 11 points, six assists, and two steals in the second half of the game. The team will take all that talent to Houston and he just might shock everyone again.
Johnson, a senior forward. averages 17 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. He achieved his 23rd double-double during the game against Notre Dame setting a new record for UNC. This powerhouse will be hard to beat if he gets his 24th double-double in Houston. Johnson says he feels like his team is the favorite to win the entire tournament.
Tip-off for this match-up is set for after the Villanova vs. Oklahoma game around 8:49 p.m.
The winner of each Final Four game will play for the national championship on Monday.