Marquee matchups create intriguing NCAA Final Four


Ryan Schreiber (Flickr)

This year’s Final Four is in Glendale, Ariz.

Alex Keeler, Reporter

This year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was full of excitement and surprises. But the best may be yet to come as four of the NCAA’s perennial powerhouses; Kansas, Villanova, Duke, and North Carolina are set to square off this Saturday in New Orleans. 

This is the first time in tournament history that all the Final Four teams each have at least three national championships. If you add them all up, it comes out to 17 titles. 

Kansas and Villanova will clash in the first semifinal game on Saturday, with Kansas trying to advance to their tenth national title game in program history, while Villanova looks to advance to their fourth. 

This will be the fourth time these two programs have met in the tournament. Kansas won the first game in 2008, but Villanova returned the favor by winning in both ‘16 and ‘18.  

In the three previous matchups, the team that has come out victorious has gone on to win the national title. 

Villanova will be entering this weekend’s game shorthanded, as guard Justin Moore suffered a season-ending injury in their Elite Eight victory over Houston. Moore was second-leading scorer (14.8 pts) and third-leading rebounder (4.8) on the team. 

Despite the loss of Moore, Villanova Head Coach Jay Wright remains confident that his team can prevail. 

“There are guys that come off the bench that will be given more minutes and opportunities (because of) him,” Wright said. “We believe that we can be a really good team without him. That said, we know how good Kansas is.” 

Tip-off for the first game is set for 3:09 local time on TBS. 

Game two on Saturday features the highly anticipated matchup between longtime rivals Duke and North Carolina. 

Both schools are in the ACC conference, not to mention just down the road from each other, and have played each other 256 times since 1920. North Carolina leads the all-time series 141-115. However, this will be the first time the two programs will collide in an NCAA tournament game. 

According to North Carolina head coach Hubert Davis, the key for either team to win this game is to block out any outside noise and stay mentally prepared. 

“I feel like our guys are in the perfect place because one of the things that I think they have done a great job at is turning off or turning down the noise,” Hubert said. “ And we’ve talked about it at great length and turning down the noise from the phone — family, friends and fans — and focusing on what allows us to be at our best.” 

Game two is scheduled to tip-off at 5:49 local time on TBS.