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Kansas Jayhawks eye berth in national title game
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The lone No. 1 seed remaining in the NCAA Tournament is favoured in the Final Four against Villanova
Time can fly by, as we learn every March during the NCAA Tournament.
From Selection Sunday on March 13, we have now arrived at the Final Four, with two spots open in the championship game. Public pre-tournament favourites like Gonzaga, Baylor and Kentucky have been upset and sent packing. The Cinderella Story that was Saint Peter’s magical run is over.
The Final Four goes Saturday, with Kansas as the lone No. 1 seed remaining in the tournament. The Jayhawks will play Villanova in the first game Saturday, before Duke and North Carolina face each other for a berth in the championship game on Monday.
Villanova Wildcats vs. Kansas Jayhawks
The No. 2 seed Villanova Wildcats were, as of Friday morning, four-point underdogs against the Jayhawks.
The Wildcats have rolled through the tournament on the strength of its defence, giving up an average of 55 points against per game. That includes keeping the Houston Cougars to just 44 points in their Elite 8 matchup. Style points hardly matter at this time of year because it’s been effective for Villanova.
The task will now be to limit the Jayhawks and their up-tempo offence led by senior Ochai Agbaji, who scored 18 points and went 8-for-12 from the field versus Miami.
The Jayhawks’ offence sputtered in the first half against Miami but came to life with an impressive second half. Kansas eventually overpowered the Hurricanes down the stretch, outscoring their opponents 47-15 in the final 20 minutes to erase a six-point halftime deficit and win by 26.
Villanova has covered the spread in each of its last four games, while Kansas is 2-2 against the spread in this tournament. Total Points for this matchup was, as of Friday, set at 133.
North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Duke Blue Devils
It’s been quite a ride for the Duke Blue Devils in this tournament, with the legendary Mike Krzyzewski – ‘Coach K’ – set to retire at the conclusion of March Madness.
And now, all that sits between Duke and a storybook berth in the championship game is an all ACC matchup with a North Carolina Tar Heels team that has been gaining strength with 10 wins in its last 11 games. That strong run for North Carolina includes a 94-81 win over Duke earlier in March.
In that game, the Tar Heels overpowered the Blue Devils in the second half to take the win.
The Tar Heels have been battle tested in this tournament, having to regroup in overtime for the win after a near second-half collapse against Baylor in the second round. They overcame UCLA with a big second half in the Sweet 16 round led by sophomore guard Caleb Love, and easily dispatched the Cinderella Story of Saint Peter’s in the Elite 8.
Duke certainly had some bumpy moments before entering the tournament. But when big moments have presented themselves, the Blue Devils have excelled. Think back to their thrilling back-and-forth victory over Texas Tech in the Sweet 16, or their takeover of the first half against Arkansas to get into the Final Four.
Duke was, as of Friday, favoured by four points over North Carolina. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels have covered the spread in four straight games.
Of the four teams remaining, Duke is currently favoured to win the championship, while North Carolina now has the longest outright odds at PlayNow.com.
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