March; one of the best months of the year. The spring sun is beginning to come out once again, summer is near and the end of the school year is approaching. And, of course, the best sports tournament in the world, March Madness, is upon us all.
The Final Four is set. The No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks will take on the No. 2 Villanova Wildcats on April 2 to secure a spot in the National Title game. After, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski will hope to have a chance at winning his sixth national title before retiring after the end of this season as his Blue Devils will battle long-time foe, the University of North Carolina Tarheels, in college basketball’s biggest rivalry. A complete coincidence that the last four teams’ main color is blue? Yes, but all I know is I will be glued to the TV next Saturday evening.
Now let’s get into the breakdown of the matchups. First, Kansas versus Villanova. After watching Kansas face off against Miami in the Elite 8, here are my takeaways. One, they have great big man play. David McCormack is a beast in the paint and a problem for any team to handle. His elite post-up game matches well with Ochai Agbaji, one of the nation’s top guards who is averaging 18.9 points per game to go along with 5.2 rebounds. The team also possesses great length including their guards. The most impressive statistic to me, is their efficiency at the rim. According to ESPN, the team is shooting a combined percentage of 48 percent. That is just insane! The only negative observation was their sloppy defensive play against Miami in the first half, but they changed that in the second with halftime adjustments.
The Villanova Wildcats on the other hand, possess great three-point shooting. It seems they couldn’t miss from deep against Houston. They also play sound basketball with great team chemistry and beautiful ball movement. However, their defense was weak in the paint against Houston and I think that will be an issue against the Jayhawks who have complete ballers in the paint. Although the Wildcats do have great shooting to balance their struggle in the paint out, I feel the length of Kansas will be used to contest their shooting. I also find it hard to rely on the three-ball especially this late in the tournament with fatigue certainly playing a factor. I believe the Kansas Jayhawks will get the job done and beat the Villanova Wildcats.
Now let’s get into the nation’s longest rivalry. I am looking forward to this game for many reasons. For one, it is Coach K’s last game as head coach for the Blue Devils and I would love to see him be honored for he is one of the best college basketball coaches of all time. Second, the history behind these two teams. This rivalry dates back to the early 1900s as the Tarheels have the upper hand in victories with the record being 141-115, according to Republic Americas. I can’t wait. It is for sure going to be an instant classic.
After watching the Tarheels dominate the Saint Peter’s Peacocks, which I was very upset about because I attended high school in Jersey City, New Jersey, I saw that the Tarheels possess it all. The Tarheels have a great three-ball, solid big men, poised guard play and amazing defense. They dominated the Peacocks from the first jump, controlling the tempo of the game from start to finish. They are playing with a chip on their shoulder being the No. 8 seed. I feel they are overlooked and that fits them perfectly. I also love their head coach Hubert Davis. He is a coach who attributes all the teams’ success to its players. The team feeds off his energy and it is prevalent in their play on the court.
Who is really expecting the Tarheels to go out and spoil Coach K’s final game? I mean, Coach K’s last game being a loss to his biggest rival? It doesn’t get much better than that. Although the Blue Devils have great defense, great mid-range and inside shooters and above average defense, I believe the University of North Carolina will beat the Duke Blue Devils and complete the upset.
That leaves us with a final matchup between the Tarheels and the Jayhawks. Two historic programs with a rich history. Can the Jayhawks’ length cause a problem for the Tar Heels? Maybe. But I have the University of North Carolina winning the national championship for its seventh time. They are the most well-rounded team left in this year’s tournament and I stand by it. However, at the end of the day I can’t wait for this weekend and will enjoy the tournament regardless of the winner!
Copy edited by: N’dia Webb