NCAA Tournament: Down to the Last Four

One half of the bracket looks predictable.

The other, improbable.

Welcome to the 2018 Final Four.

After all the dust has settled (and boy, was there a lot of dust this year) the remaining teams all represent unique paths to San Antonio, so trying to figure out who has the best chance to win makes for some interesting debate.

As of Monday, the betting lines for the 2018 NCAA Tournament Final Four had Loyola-Chicago and Michigan (-6) and Villanova -Kansas (-5). Let’s take a moment to break down both those matchups.

 

Villanova-Kansas

Villanova’s template for making it to the final four was easily the most standard of these four teams. A number one seed to start, they cruised through the bracket up to this point, rolling over Radford, Alabama, West Virginia and Texas Tech en route to the final four. In that span, the Wildcats have beaten their opponents by a combined score of 73 points. The tournament has basically been an afternoon stroll in the park for the 2016 National Champs.

 

Kansas on the other hand was also a number one seed, but their path through the bracket has been fraught with danger, as they have squeaked out victories in the last three rounds, even needing overtime to get out of the round of 8 matchup against Duke. Whether or not having been through all that drama serves the Jayhawks well going into the final four is yet to be seen, but it does make for an interesting matchup with Villanova considering the Wildcats have made it there drama-free. Should this game come down to the wire, one has to expect Kansas to have an advantage.Villanova, meanwhile will most likely want to jump out to an early lead and maintain a safe distance throughout the game.

 

Loyola Chicago- Michigan

In the great Midwestern matchup we have an established basketball powerhouse versus the ultimate feel good story. Coming into the tournament as an 11 seed, the Loyola Chicago Rambers were probably the only people on the planet that thought they had a chance to make it to the final four. They are in it now, and to do it they needed thrilling, one and two point margin wins capped by winning shots in the final seconds against Miami, Tennessee and Nevada in the early rounds of the tournament before cruising to a 78-62 victory against Kansas State in the last round. There is no question that the Ramblers represent the Cinderella story of the tournament, and while a bet on Loyola-Chicago may not be a safe one, they have defied all the odds up to this point, so why not. Just to put things into perspective, should the Ramblers beat the Wolverines on Saturday, they will be the first ever 11-seed to advance to the national championship.

 

Michigan, however, has other plans for Saturday. Coming in as a number 3 seed, Michigan has alternated layup wins and last-minute scares. After cruising past Montana 61-47, The Wolverines had to battle down to the wire against Houston in a 63-64 thriller before going on to beat Texas A&M easily by a score of 99-72. That set up the round of 8 matchup against Florida State, where Michigan again had to eek out a close 58-54 victory. If the blowout/closecall trend is to continue, Michigan will have their way with the Ramblers, but the way things have gone so far this year, you just never know.


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