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 is part five of a five part series that started Wednesday night and runs through Friday.
We conclude the series by talking about who we want to see on the other side of the bracket and predicting the rest of the season.
Editor’s Note: I’m joined on this panel by Anthony Broome from Maize and Brew, Jack Brooks from VU Hoops, and Russell Steinberg from Mid Major Madness. If you missed the previous installment in this series, you can find it here:
Part 1: The Best Moments Up to Now
Part 2: The Key Components of Each Team
Part 3: Buttering Up the Opponents
Part 4: Trash Talking
Which team on the opposite side of the bracket are you rooting for and why?
AB: It would have to be Kansas simply because I think Villanova is better than them and would be a much tougher matchup for the Wolverines.
RS: I’m a Big East guy at heart so I’m rooting for Villanova. I think the Wildcats are the best team in the country and Jalen Brunson is the best player in the country. Also I’m a UConn fan and I’ll be very upset if Kansas wins it all and matches UConn with four championships. Sorry.
JB: Loyola, no doubt. The prospect of facing Mo Wagner is terrifying, and the idea of a Jesuits vs. Augustinian championship game on Easter Monday is too tempting to turn down.
AM: I’m torn here. I absolutely want revenge on Michigan for the atrocious no call on the illegal screen that freed Trey Burke up for the game-tying 3 to force overtime, but I also would rather face a Loyola-Chicago team that is a much better matchup for the Jayhawks. And since Kansas already slayed the nation’s villain in Grayson Allen and Duke (again, you’re welcome America), it would only be fitting to have them do a heel turn and end the Cinderella story of Sister Jean.
How do you see the games playing out this weekend?
AB: I have Michigan and Villanova both winning on Saturday and the Wolverines ultimately capping this season off with a National Championship. I called it a few weeks ago now and it would be silly to walk it back at this point. Beilein puts his stamp on the program for good and goes down in the ranks as U-M basketball’s Bo Schembechler.
RS: Ignore the trash talk from before. A Villanova vs. Michigan title game would be fantastic and I see the Wildcats winning a close one. Maybe another buzzer-beater.
JB: Michigan over Nova in the championship game. I’m generally a pessimistic fan, and I think 2 titles in three years from this team is just too much to ask. Honestly though, I think Villanova or Kansas could also certainly win it all. Loyola has the skill, but with that week off and Michigan solely focusing on you I think it will be very difficult for them to keep the magic going.
AM: I’m pleased to see that yet again, no one here thinks that Kansas will pull out the victory. While I have serious reservations about this game, I do think that they are more than talented enough to pull it off. I keep hearing a lot about how Omari Spellman does things that will cause problems for Udoka Azubuike, but KU has three different big men that will each give the Wildcats different looks. For superstition sake, I’ll pick Villanova over Michigan for the title, but that’s really just to make sure that Kansas pulls through yet another tough game.
Any final thoughts?
AB: Go Blue. Finish it.
RS: Here’s one reason to root for Loyola to win it all: If the Ramblers do (and make no mistake about it, they can), it will force the NCAA to look at how teams are selected and seeded for the tournament, and the structure of the regular season as a whole. Loyola needed to win the MVC Tournament to even make the Dance and their run has already proven how absurd that is.
JB: Three things:
- Respect mid-majors. Loyola should have been a 8 or 9 seed, and while I’m glad we didn’t have to play them in the Round of 32 they shouldn’t have to win their conference tourney to get into the tournament.
- The Big East is the best and most entertaining conference in the country that no one watches because ESPN doesn’t have the rights so they brush them under the rug.
- Bring Cincy and UConn back to the Big East to save them from the slums of the AAC. I want to face Cronin and Hurley twice a year. You can keep USF though, they didn’t really do much here.
AM: It’s been a fantastic tournament, and the Final Four is shaping up to everything we could have asked for and more. And while I’m happy with this season to this point, the only proper way to end it is with the Rock Chalk Chant counting down the clock on Monday.
Good luck to all teams participating in the Final Four and Championship game this weekend.