Men's Basketball 2018 NCAA Tournament Final Four Game Breakdowns

Final Four Game Breakdowns
Of the 187 NCAA Tournament brackets compiled by the bracket matrix, only 15 thought Loyola-Chicago deserved to be (or would receive, depending on your frame of reference) a seed better than 11. After four rounds, the Ramblers are one of just four teams that remain. With five different double-digit scorers during the regular season, it makes sense that a different hero has emerged each round. A two-point win over Miami was thanks to Donte Ingram’s game winner. A one-point win over Tennessee came thanks to Clayton Custer’s final shot. The one-point win over Nevada was at the hands of Marques Townes. It wasn’t until the South regional final that Loyola-Chicago even won with any conviction. And there, the Ramblers, as a team, shot the lights out and held Kansas State to 6-of-26 from three. If they ramp up the three-point defense one more time, there is no reason these guys can’t win a trip to the national championship.
Only the Michigan Wolverines stand in their way. Michigan – a three-seed on a tear – has won with pure shooting and defensive intensity. At this point, a February road loss to Northwestern feels like it happened during a different season. Jordan Poole supplied the Wolverines with a little March Madness of their own in the second round, but other than that, Michigan had been cruising. Not even a horrid shooting night in the West regional final could slow down this train. The Michigan defense has been a calling card all year. It came up biggest at the most important time, when the outside shots weren’t falling. The Wolverines cannot expect to always win if they put up .388/.182/.667 shooting splits, but it must be reassuring that they can indeed still win when doing so.
Loyola-Chicago has been an incredibly efficient shooting team all season. It won’t get a ton of clean looks against the active UM defense, so that will be critical. Three-point defense will also factor into the outcome, as Michigan launches from deep early and often. The Wolverines have a major size advantage along the interior and are obviously the favorites at the outset of this contest. However, that hadn’t stopped the Ramblers from advancing to this point. The question is whether they have one or two more heroes left in that rotation.
#1 Villanova vs. #1 Kansas
Villanova broke out the last piece of its championship puzzle in the East regional final when it proved it can defeat a quality opponent even when not shooting the ball well. The Wildcats connected on just four of 24 three-point attempts but dominated Texas Tech on the boards and got to the foul line continuously. After blowout wins and feasting from distance for the first three rounds, this fourth victory showed how many different ways Villanova can win with what is essentially a six-man rotation.
The Kansas Jayhawks, meanwhile, found just enough separation each of the past three rounds to squeak into the Final Four. Overtime was needed to beat Duke in the Midwest regional final, giving KU its third straight four-point victory. With 13 made threes and a massive rebounding edge of their own, the Jayhawks played Villanova’s style. In fact, the two teams are pretty closely related. Both play at an average pace but roast opponents offensively. They can be had on the defensive end but can also clamp down when necessary. Both teams rely on a short rotation, share the basketball, lean on one play-making point guard, and launch it early and often from beyond the arc. Beyond foul shooting, these are two eerily similar clubs…though Villanova is simply better.
If this Final Four matchup was being played in a best-of-seven series, Nova should advance. But that isn’t how the NCAA Tournament works. Thus, Kansas has a perfectly viable chance of advancing. It does everything that Villanova does just slightly worse, but that doesn’t mean the Jayhawks will be slightly worse on any given night. They have the size and the wings to deal with the Wildcats. They have the experience and veteran savvy to hang with the best foes. They have star power and players hitting their personal peaks of performance, hence the berth in the Final Four. Everything has lined up for KU this season, though they must defeat a superior opponent to advance one more leg.