The last day with multiple basketball games is today, and while this season was great, it certainly is a little bittersweet knowing that after today and Monday we will be into the offseason for the two main sports I cover on this site. Hopefully, I’ll be doing some NFL Draft Prospect Breakdowns throughout April to pass the time, and after that, who knows.
(11) Loyola-Chicago vs (3) Michigan – 6:09PM ET, TBS
Oh, Loyola. You’ve given us so much throughout this tournament. Two buzzer beaters, Sister Jean, a Clayton Custer shot that seemed to take the weirdest bounce possible in the last ten seconds against Nevada. This tournament is crazy, but only three times ever has there been an 11 seed in the Final Four, never has there been an 11 seed in the championship game. The Ramblers are on a 14 game win streak, and Michigan is on a 13 game win streak, the two longest in the nation.
I love Loyola, and even though they are the only team in this Final Four I didn’t successfully predict, I’ll be pulling for them, but to do beat Michigan they will need to stop Mo Wagner. The 6’10” center had a down game against Florida State last Saturday, but for the season, he has been a matchup freak. He has the highest defensive rebounding percentage of anybody left in this tournament, but he also shoots 40% from three. Loyola has some shooters too though. Clayton Custer has the highest effective field goal percentage of any remaining player, and Aundre Jackson owns the same honor for offensive rating. I don’t know what the Ramblers will do to stop Wagner, but the guards of Loyola will at least keep it close, if not lead them to the title game.
The Pick: Loyola-Chicago +5.5
(1) Villanova vs (1) Kansas – 8:49PM ET, TBS
I had both of these teams in my Final Four from the start. There I picked ‘Nova, and I’m not switching from that yet. Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson have both had All-American level years, Brunson being the winner of National Player of the Year. This game gets the late billing because it is the two national brands against eachother, but I actually see the first one being closer. Jalen Brunson taking on De’Vonte Graham is one of the best one-on-one matchups you can see in college basketball, but even if Graham shuts down Brunson, what are the Jayhawks going to do with Mikal Bridges?
Mikal Bridges is a future top ten draft pick. He plays great defense and then comes back to get open looks on the other end of the court. I know that Brunson gets all the attention, but in the minds of NBA scouts, Bridges is just as good if not probably better. I know that the Jayhawks have Udoka Azubuike down low, but Omari Spellman is a huge underrated piece of this Wildcat team, and I am certainly not turning my back on my national champion pick now.
The Pick: Villanova -5