By: Lucas Kochevar
The Final Four is among us!
The March Madness is almost coming to an end and the field of 64 has been narrowed down to just four teams. This year has been everything the common sports fan could ask for with exhilarating games and breathtaking moments. The four teams are all very different and they each have their own story. The Final Four teams are the Michigan Wolverines, Kansas Jayhawks, Villanova Wildcats, and Loyola-Chicago Ramblers. First things first, let's take a dive into how each of these teams got into this position.
Michigan started off this tournament by facing Montana and they handled them accordingly, 61-47. The next round turned out to be the toughest game on their journey to the Final Four. The Wolverines played Houston and Houston was winning a majority of the game, but a freshman shooting guard named Jordan Poole heaved almost a half court buzzer-beater for the win. The next round was against Texas A&M. Michigan dismantled the Aggies, 99-72, and moved on to play Florida State, who was fresh off of a win over one-seeded Xavier. Michigan handled their business once again by beating Florida State and punching their ticket to San Antonio.
Michigan is going to be facing off against the Cinderella story of the year. Loyola-Chicago Ramblers and Sister Jean. Sister Jean has been the symbol of this March Madness as its hard to read something about the tournament without her turning up once. The basketball, however, should be recognized for their fantastic games. The Ramblers overcame the odds as they have had to win their first two games off of buzzer-beaters. The first win was against Miami (FL) and the second win was against Tennessee. The third round was against Nevada. Loyola was winning the game for the most part, but a late Nevada push made it seem inevitable that they would fall, but they held on to win by one point. In their Final Four clinching game they played Kansas State and shot lights out and won their trip to San Antonio as well.
Villanova making the Final Four is not a huge surprise as they were ranked as a one seed for a reason. They were the best team coming into this year and they maintained that status throughout the year. Nova dominated their path to the championship by taking teams out like Radford, Alabama, and Texas Tech. The biggest challenge, however, came in the third round against West Virginia because of West Virginia’s nonstop defensive pressure. The WIldcats did overcome this and won the game easily in the second half.
Kansas making the Final Four is not a major surprise either as they are ranked as a one seed in their region. Kansas started their journey by taking out Penn with ease. In the next round they were pushed by Seton Hall, but they came out with a four point victory. The next round came down to some key plays also with Clemson pushing Kansas. The Jayhawks did end up winning by four again. The biggest, perhaps best game, in the tournament came when Kansas played Duke. The game was very back and forth with momentum swings for both teams, but it came down to Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman, who scored 32, to make the difference. Newman single handedly carried the Jayhawks to the Final Four by scoring almost all of the points in overtime.
The Final Four is going down in San Antonio this Sunday with Loyola facing Michigan first. That game is going to be followed by Villanova and Kansas. This Final is shaping up to be one of the most exciting college basketball games off all-time as we have many stories and exciting players that will be on the big stage this weekend. Good luck to all the teams involved!
Michigan 75, Loyola-Chicago 69
Kansas 68, Villanova 63
Kansas 78, Michigan 66