I pulled together the SB Nation sites for the teams participating in the Final Four to break down the matchups and give everyone a one stop shop for learning about these teams. This will be a five part series starting tonight and running through Friday.
Up first, we talk about the best moments of the season for each of these teams.
Let’s kick this off with an easy one. Introduce yourself, the site you write for, and your favorite moment of the tournament so far.
AB: I’m Anthony Broome from Maize n Brew, the Michigan Wolverines affiliate here. The biased answer would be the Jordan Poole buzzer beater against Houston, but finally seeing a 16 seed knock off a No. 1 seed with UMBC over Virginia was an incredible moment that, I will be honest, felt like it may never happen.
RS: I’m Russell Steinberg from Mid-Major Madness. We’ve kept our eye on Loyola all year and I’m glad the world is now getting to see what we’ve known all along: that this team is legit. Every tournament comes with its share of great mid-major moments and picking just one could be like picking your favorite child. But there’s not right answer other than UMBC’s win over Virginia. It was historic and truly a thing of beauty.
JB: I’m Jack Brooks from VUHoops, Villanova’s SB Nation affiliate. My favorite moment from a Villanova game is the block and putback dunk back to back by Omari Spellman against West Virginia, but my favorite from the entire tournament is UMBC beating Virginia. It felt like a once in a generation moment, and I’m glad to have witnessed it.
AM: I’m Andy Mitts from Rock Chalk Talk, the SB Nation site for the Kansas Jayhawks. While I enjoyed the UMBC upset, I think my favorite moment has to be rooting for the team that ended the career of Grayson Allen. You’re welcome, America.
What has been the best moment of the season for your team? Feel free to give me one postseason and one regular season moment if you want.
AB: Michigan’s best moment came not once, but twice against their rivals in Michigan State. This was supposed to be Tom Izzo’s most talented team and the Wolverines handled them both times rather emphatically. No matter how this year ends for Michigan, it feels like a lot of people will hang their hats on those two games as the ones that produced the most feels.
RS: It seems like forever ago, but in December, Loyola went into the O Dome and beat Florida without Ben Richardson. Audre Jackson had 23 points and was perfect from three in that one, helping to make up for Richardson’s absence and a rough game from Clayton Custer. In the tournament, take your pick at any of the first four games. Personally, I’ll go with Donte Ingram’s three against Miami because it was a true buzzer beater.
JB: Oops, accidentally already answered part of this! The best Villanova moment from the regular season was when they played Gonzaga at MSG. Because our projected Atlantis opponents Purdue and Arizona both lost in the first round, it was our first real test, and we beat a team that nearly won the title the year before by double digits, and it wasn’t even close. After the disappointment of the Wisconsin loss last year, it felt like this team was back for vengeance.
AM: While getting back to the Final Four has been amazing, none of it would have been possible without the Jayhawks’ run through the Big 12 tournament. If Malik Newman and Silvio De Sousa hadn’t found their swagger in that magical run without Udoka Azubuike, Kansas would likely be sitting at home right now. As for regular season, the best moment has to be the big game at Texas Tech to clinch at least a share of the 14th straight conference title, arguably one of the greatest achievements in recent sports history.
Be sure to check back Thursday morning, when we look specifically at what makes these teams so good.