The 2018 NCAA Basketball Tournament has already surpassed its wildest expectations. As the Elite Eight rounds begin, it is time to look ahead and predict what we can expect in the championship game. With Saint Peter’s up against North Carolina Tar Heels, Duke looks like a heavy favorite while Villanova will face off with Michigan State Spartans in an intriguing matchup that could go either way.
Two A-listers There are two games left. And for many spectators, at least one of the 2022 NCAA tournament games is what March Madness is all about.
The Saint Peter’s Peacocks have been the story of the tournament so far, being the first No. 15 team to reach the Elite Eight in NCAA tournament history. The ability of Shaheen Holloway’s team to advance to the 2022 Final Four will be determined by their ability to go through one of the sport’s great bloods, the No. 8 seed North Carolina Tar Heels, who have made an unexpected run to the national semifinals under first-year head coach Hubert Davis.
The lone remaining No. 1 seed Kansas Jayhawks will open Sunday’s play against a Miami Hurricanes team in the Elite Eight for the first time in school history, striving for their 16th all-time Final Four appearance.
The weekend got off to a spectacular start on Saturday, with the Villanova Wildcats defeating Houston 50-44 and the Duke Blue Devils punching Coach K’s ticket to his last Final Four with a 78-69 victory against Arkansas.
Myron Medcalf, Jeff Borzello, John Gasaway, and Joe Lunardi of ESPN discussed what they saw on Saturday and what they’re hoping for in Sunday’s last two Elite Eight games.
For NCAA tournament tip times, go here, and to check your March Madness bracket, go here.
The following is the March Madness schedule for Sunday:
2:20 p.m. ET, No. 10 Miami vs. No. 1 Kansas (CBS)
5:05 p.m. ET, No. 15 Saint Peter’s vs. No. 8 North Carolina (CBS)
Select the winner of each game in the NCAA tournament from the Sweet 16 through the championship to complete your bracket. Second Chance at the Tournament Challenge
Medcalf: For me, it’s the constancy. I believe the resemblance between this squad and the national championship teams of 2016 and 2018 is how they concluded the season. Those two teams didn’t have as many grind-it-out games as the Wildcats had on Saturday, but they were as effective in the closing chapter of the season in defeating any team in front of them. In its previous 15 games, Villanova is 14-1. The Huskies won the one game they lost during that time, 71-69 against UConn, by scoring five points in the last 21 seconds of the game. It hasn’t always been a pleasant experience. There is no Jalen Brunson or Mikal Bridges on this squad. They have, however, remained consistent for about two months.
However, it was painful to witness Moore sob alongside his teammates on the sidelines after the game. That’s not a promising omen. If he is unable to play in New Orleans, it will alter Villanova’s ceiling and influence the team’s depth.
Borzello: They’re indestructible. They don’t deviate from the formula that has helped Jay Wright win two national titles and three Final Four appearances in the previous six NCAA tournaments. Houston is supposed to be the squad that makes opponents uncomfortable by forcing them out of their comfort zones. That was Villanova on Saturday. Houston had to adapt its attack and guard for 30 seconds on the opposite end because of the Wildcats. They didn’t commit any live-ball turnovers and kept the Cougars off the offensive boards. Villanova wins games by adhering to the concepts of discipline, ball movement, playing off two feet, and switching everything defensively.
Moore could be a stretch to play next week, given that he didn’t come off the bench after the buzzer sounded and went to the locker room on crutches before returning for the trophy celebration, and we’ll hope it’s not too bad. If Moore is out, Caleb Daniels, who has been the sixth player in Villanova’s six-man rotation, will be under a lot of pressure. Daniels has made some big shots off the bench in the previous two games, and he will likely replace Moore in the starting lineup. The Wildcats’ depth will be a problem in New Orleans, so Chris Arcidiacono and Bryan Antoine will have to step up.
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Medcalf: Any coach who has seen what Saint Peter’s has accomplished is anxious about Miami’s ability to send his team home. It’s going to be a crazy competition. This Martin development, on the other hand, is analogous to an NBA club making a critical move just before the deadline. We’d speculated about how Kansas might look if Martin was healthy and happy, and now we’re here. He has transformed this team and relieved Agbaji of the responsibility of leading the team every night. For Self’s team, such balance is a huge step forward. In the NCAA tournament, Martin has hit 40% of his 3-point tries and 64% of his shots inside the arc. When you combine it with a Kansas team that plays tenacious defense around the rim, it’s easy to see the Jayhawks winning by a large margin.
Lunardi: Kansas is the greatest team remaining in the tournament, both in terms of seed and on the court. If the current version of Martin had been accessible during the season, the Jayhawks would have earned the No. 1 overall seed in the top left corner of the bracket. We all know that if you asked Self in October whether he’d accept an Elite Eight game against a 10-seed, he’d say no. Kansas fans are understandably concerned, but the sleepless night belongs to Miami.