Final Four Preview

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Isaiah Freedman staff writer

The NCAA’s widely popular March Madness tournament is nearing its anticipated conclusion, with Villanova, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Syracuse participating in the Final Four, which takes place Saturday, April. 2.

(2) Villanova Wildcats vs (2) Oklahoma Sooners

Where- NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas

When- Saturday, April. 2, 3:09 p.m.

Televised on TBS

The Sooners should walk into this matchup as slight favorites, only for the fact that they have a human fireball on their team in Buddy Hield, who has shot a blistering 47.5 percent from beyond the arc this tournament.

Alongside Hield in the backcourt is fellow senior, point guard Isaiah Cousins. Cousins has that warrior mentality: he hunts for his shots recklessly, but his defense and ability to get the ball to Hield in favorable positions highlight his value. Cousins is such a hard worker that when he was a freshman he would warm up for games at 6 a.m. and would fall asleep in the locker room. He was then told by security that players are not allowed to do that.

Besides Cousins and Hield, the Sooners have a well-rounded team that doesn’t make too many mistakes, but will need to rely heavily on their two seniors to carry the massive scoring burden.

The Wildcats, making their first Final Four appearance since 1995, do not have a player of Hield’s caliber offensively (no one does), but do have a much more well-rounded team than the Sooners. The team boasts a starting lineup filled to the brim with quality college players: Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, Ryan Arcidiacono, Kris Jenkins and Daniel Ochefu. They can cut a team from all sides, but are vulnerable since they do not have a go-to scorer.

Matchups are always interesting when teams with entirely different styles clash, and the top heavy and offensive-minded Sooners vying against the well-rounded and defensive-minded Wildcats fits that description.

Prediction: Sooners 63, Wildcats 58

(2) North Carolina Tar Heels vs (10) Syracuse Orange

 

Where- NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas

When- Saturday, April. 2, 5:49 p.m.

Televised on TBS

The Tar Heels are definitely the deepest and most dangerous team left in the tournament. They have a top five player in Brice Johnson, a menace in the paint in Kennedy Meeks and a quality senior point guard in Marcus Paige.

The Orange, the “Cinderella” team of the tournament, will always have their formidable 2-3 defense to revert to, but if freshman phenom Malachi Richardson is not cooking, the Orange can get squeezed for points.

It is always a challenge for guards to score against Syracuse’s defensive set, but a dominant big man who has passing chops can demolish it. Meeks has a Demarcus Cousins-like body and can kick the ball out to open perimeter players in a pinch.

Prediction: Tar Heels 57, Orange 46

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