Houston, we have the Final Four teams at your ready!
From the depths of 68 teams, the last four have survived to reach the surface to do battle in Space City. We have 2 two seeds, a 1 seed, and a 10 seed playing for the national championship because that just deliciously fits into what we have witnessed this year. I mean, of course Syracuse barely makes it in and then shows everybody off by going all the way to the Final Four right? The Orange had displayed this type of talent in flashes during the season but the tournament has brought out the best of this so-called “undeserving” team. To the rest of you who are upset, just enjoy the tournament because there are undoubtedly some great games yet to come. The rest of the lucky and talented Final Four teams are North Carolina, Villanova, and Oklahoma.
1,140 brackets out of more than 13 million (0.009%) picked the correct Final Four in the ESPN Tournament Challenge.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 28, 2016
In what has been an unpredictable and wild season, we should have seen this type of tournament coming. Once Middle Tennessee State ripped out our bracket hearts by taking down Michigan State, we should have known nothing would be the same again. We should have known that Northern Iowa would bank a half-court shot to beat Texas. We should have known Texas A&M would go on a 14-2 run to survive Northern Iowa in the round of 32. We should have seen Wisconsin’s run to the Sweet 16. Finally, we should have seen Syracuse and their run to the Final Four. Despite all the upsets, we tried to negotiate with ourselves to no avail. We tried to talk ourselves into thinking it was okay that they won because we got the one big upset out-of-the-way, our bracket would be okay the rest of the way, right? RIGHT?
This season has seen the most upsets in the tournament since 2001. Number 1 seeds were looking golden and primed to all make the Final Four until the Elite Eight, despite all the early upsets, until somebody slapped some BBQ sauce on them and yelled “OPEN SEASON!”. The University of North Carolina is the only number 1 seed to survive the upsets and make it to the Final Four and is that not poetic in a sense? In a season full of crazy upsets and shifting rankings, the pre-season #1 team in the Associated Poll has come all the way back to make the Final Four as the only number 1 seed still alive. Roy Williams has had all sorts of academic allegations to deal with and retirement rumors to squash this season at UNC and yet has rallied his team to live up to their potential at the right time.
Villanova, to me, has had one of the best Final Four journeys out of every team in the Final Four. The Wildcats have disappointed many times over the years and have had to deal with hearing about it over and over again. Head coach Jay Wright can finally answer that question that was asked to him pre-tournament about Villanova’s past failures. He can hold up the regional championship trophy to all their haters as a response and Wildcat fans are hoping he can also hold up a national championship trophy in a week. Arcidiacano has been the steady veteran force for this team that has not only defeated their own demons, but they have dominated the tournament so far in impressive fashion. The Wildcats have played some great trap and overall defense in addition to knocking down shots at some of their highest rates of the entire season.
Oklahoma might just be the most dangerous Final Four teams in Houston in my opinion. Dangerous in the sense that they have the one guy who can win them 2 games by himself. The Sooners have arguably the best player in the nation in Buddy Hield and the tournament is where those type of players thrive. Hield had 37 points in the Elite Eight against Oregon and that type of production is dangerous in March. Many people were hoping for KU-OU Part III in the Final Four but Oklahoma and Villanova will provide us just as good of entertainment, trust me. The Sooners, when they hit their threes, are an explosive team and they have blown everybody away except their opening round game.
Who is left? Well, Syracuse of course!
We all heard the complaints and groans when Syracuse was announced as having made the tournament. Jim Boeheim actually campaigned for his team to make the tournament and that made even more people upset. Now, where are all those people who complained? They are probably still in the comment section of different websites complaining about something new.
The Syracuse Orange are playing as if they should have been seeded as a top seed from the get go. Their zone defense is suffocating and they are causing a crazy amount of turnovers. In addition to their takeaway defense, Syracuse can erase any defense with that three-point shooting. Don’t even get me started on their freshman Malachi Richardson. The freshman can play and Syracuse better hope that they win the championship this year because I would not be surprised if he left for the NBA. Richardson has swagger and that mentality that I think will attract several teams in the NBA draft, plus he has the length that allows him to be super versatile. A #10 seed that nobody said belonged has surprised everyone on their way to the Final Four and just because they are there does not mean they are going to settle. Be careful Tarheels!
Here is to hoping the Final Four is just as crazy and we can top off this season with some great games in Houston.