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The Trailblazer

Reporting with Hills Pride

The Trailblazer

Reporting with Hills Pride

The Trailblazer

Final Four Preview and Predictions
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After two weeks of some of the most unpredictable college basketball anyone has ever seen, the national semifinal, otherwise known s the Final Four, is finally upon us. We have seen heartbreak, game winners, upsets, and blowouts, but the tournament has cleared itself and we are left with 4 teams, each respectively winning their section of the bracket. Here are their stories:


Tournament Recap: 

Winner of the South Region: Villanova (2)

            Villanova has quietly put together one of the more compelling teams in the country. They are very balanced offensively with no player averaging more than 16 points per game, yet they have four players averaging more than 10 points per game.

They got to this point in the tournament by drawing UNC Asheville in the first round. UNCA was never really given much of a shot with Villanova taking care of them 86-56. From there, they entered a game with Iowa where they, again, handled them by a score of 87-68. Once they entered the Sweet 16, they faced three seed Miami, who was a dark horse to take home the ticket from the south region. Miami did not come to play and Villanova won that game 92-69.

Villanova has yet to truly be tested in the tournament so far, but they were going to have to play some of their best basketball all season if they were going to beat their next opponent, number 1 overall seed in the entire tournament, Kansas. In a back and forth game, Villanova prevailed in a 64-59 victory over Kansas, and that was enough to put them in the Final four.


Winner of the West Region: Oklahoma (2)

Oklahoma has been quite the opposite of Villanova in terms of how they went through the season. With national player of the year favorite and offensive dynamo, Buddy Hield, Oklahoma spent a fair share of their season sitting number 1 in the polls. By the time the tournament had rolled around, they dropped slightly and were given a two seed from the committee, but that did not stop Hield and the Sooners.

Hield averaged an astonishing 25.4 points per game the entire season and Sooner averaged more than 13 points per game. In the first round they went up against California State University Bakersfield whom they dismantled 82-68.

Then they came up against Virginia Commonwealth University, whom they narrowly beat 85-81. Entering the Sweet Sixteen against 3 Seed Texas A&M, they won with a score of 77-63. To put them decisively in the Final Four, they went up against a relatively unknown 1 seed Oregon and were victors, 80-68.


Winner of the Midwest Region: Syracuse (10)

Yes, you read that properly. No, it is not a typo. Tenth seeded Syracuse, one of the last 4 to earn entry to the tournament, has found their way to the Final Four on one of the easier routes anyone has seen. They are the first 10 seed to ever make it to the Final Four. Syracuse is built more like Villanova—they do not have one main scorer, but instead four different players averaging over 10 points per game.

Their first round game was against an overrated 7 seed Dayton, who they beat 70-51. Many will argue Syracuse should have faced 2 seed Michigan State in their next game. Michigan State, however, somehow lost to 15 seed Middle Tennessee State in one of the greatest updates in college basketball. MTS’s one-day Cinderella story ended with a loss to Syracuse 75-50 in the next round.

From there, Syracuse went up against another double-digit team in 11 seed Gonzaga, whom the Orange beat 63-60 in an absolute nail biter. From there, they got 1 seed Virginia in the Elite Eight, who took and early commanding lead and was up by 15 points in the second half, but Syracuse came storming back and managed to beat Virginia by a score of 68-62, punching their ticket to Houston.


Winner of the East Region: North Carolina (1)

The only 1 seed to find their way to the Final Four, North Carolina is the most complete team in the country. With all-American do-it-all man, Brice Johnson, who averages a double-double, and senior point guard and floor general Marcus Paige, North Carolina is very tough to beat. Not only can they shoot the lights out, they also have plenty of big men to wear you down, like 6’9” 265 pound big man Kennedy Meeks.

In the first round, Carolina drew Florida Gulf Coast, who did not belong on the court with Carolina, ending with a final score of 83-67. From there, they took care of Providence 85-66, and Indiana 101-86. Then in the elite eight, they came up against a red hot Notre Dame team, but the Tar Heels were not phased, as they beat them 88-74. The fourth and final team was heading to Houston.


My Predictions:

Final Four Match Up Game 1: Villanova vs. Oklahoma

Although Villanova is a more balanced team and does not rely too heavily on one player, I feel that Buddy Hield will be too much to handle for the Wildcats, and the Sooners will advance to the National Championship game.


Final Four Match Up Game 2: Syracuse vs. North Carolina

Syracuse has had a good run, but this is where the Cinderella story ends, as the Tar Heels combination of size, speed and ability will outmatch the Orange.


National Championship Game: Oklahoma vs. North Carolina

Buddy Hield has enjoyed a great tournament, but he has not come up against a team like North Carolina. With the wonderful coaching from Roy Williams, they will find the kryptonite to Buddy Hield, and the Tar Heels will lift the National Championship trophy.
Winner: North Carolina


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