Note: As per usual, RCT will have a separate gamethread for the Villanova-Kansas game.
SCHEDULE (All times Central)
11 Loyola vs 3 Michigan, 5:09 PM, TBS
Michigan enters the day a 5.5-point favorite over Loyola. The Wolverines are the #7 team at KenPom, with a top-30 offense and a top-5 defense. Loyola stands as the #30 team at KenPom, with a top-60 offense and a top-20 defense. KP predicts a 5-point Michigan win, and gives the Ramblers a 33% chance to pull the upset and play for the title.
Dumb Prediction: Michigan has played one great game in this tournament (Sweet 16 vs TAMU) and three, let’s say, uninspiring games, including one against Houston in the second round that required a 70% free throw shooter, a senior, missing two, PLUS a game winning three-pointer. Similarly, Loyola snuck past their first three opponents, winning those games by a combined four points, before absolutely trashing Kansas State (lol) in the Elite 8. Loyola has clearly captured the nation’s attention; unfortunately for the Wolverines, I think it’s their turn to become America’s most hated team. Michigan 78, Loyola 70.
1 Villanova vs 1 Kansas, 7:49 PM, TBS
Villanova comes into this one a five-point favorite over Kansas. ‘Nova is the #1 team in the overall KP rankings; additionally, the Wildcats are one of the heralded teams that is top-20 in both KenPom’s offense and defense. In fact, Villanova is the #1 offensive team in the country. The Jayhawks can score the ball as well, ranking as the #5 offense in the country, sporting a top-40 defense to go with it. KP predicts an 8-point Villanova win, giving Kansas just a 29% chance to move on to the championship game.
Dumb Prediction: After moving past Penn with relative ease, KU has won each of its last three games by four points each. Meanwhile, Villanova has cruised through this tournament, with all four games decided by 12 or more points (despite a late scare from Texas Tech in the Elite 8). ‘Nova has consistently been one of the top two teams all season long, and for good reason. I don’t think they’ll be able to steamroll Kansas like they have the rest of the field, but I also don’t think they’ll be sweating too much as the clock nears 0:00. Villanova 89, Kansas 82.