And then there were four. Villanova, Kansas, Michigan and Loyola Chicago are the four teams left vying for the National Championship of college basketball. One of those teams is not like the others. While Villanova, Kansas and Michigan were all given a good chance to get to this point in the tournament, Loyola Chicago is the Cinderella of the dance as a #11 seed that has been the underdog in every game they’ve played in the tournament. That said, the 78-62 drubbing they gave Kansas State in the Elite Eight really proved that this team is for real and can put up the points to compete against the best teams in the nation. It’s really anyone’s tournament at this point.
Loyola Chicago vs Michigan
- Loyola Chicago +5
- Michigan -5
Michigan is the team I had to win the entire tournament in the vast majority of my brackets, so I’m not about to go against them now. They had that scare in the second round with Jordan Poole needing to make a tough buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat Houston, but they followed that up last weekend with a an absolute thrashing of Texas A&M and then held off Florida State to book their ticket to the finals. Michigan has now won 13 games in a row dating back to winning the Big 10 Finals in Champ Week, and they are the definition of a team that is peaking at the right time.
Loyola Chicago has proven they can hang with the top teams in college basketball, but they are now running into a top school that is rolling like nothing they have seen before. I don’t want to take anything away from Loyola Chicago, but they were able to advance out of the South Region without having to face either of the top seeds, which does involve some luck. Michigan is the best team they’ve faced so far and I just don’t see them being able to hang with a Michigan side that I expect to put up 70+ points in this game.
Play: Michigan -5
Kansas vs Villanova
- Kansas +5
- Villanova -5
Villanova has absolutely torn through the tournament beating each team they’ve faced by double digits. The most impressive was their recent win over Texas Tech where Villanova just took off in the first half and never looked back. Villanova out rebounded Texas Tech 50-28 in that game and those second chance points were really the difference in that game.
In the Duke vs Kansas game it was the rebounding of Kansas that really won them the game as well with the Jayhawks out-rebounding Duke 46-24 in that game.
Villanova is without a doubt the better scoring team in this game. They have all kinds of players who can drain 3-pointers and it’s no coincidence they were the highest scoring team in the nation during the regular season. That said, I was very impressed with the rebounding of Kansas last game. They dominated Duke on the boards and Duke was the 8th best team in the nation during the regular season in rebound margin.
Kansas is the type of team that is able to step up at big moments and get the job done. They won the Big 12 tournament, dominating each game by double digit points and they have not missed a beat in the NCAA Tournament. I get the feeling that Kansas is being somewhat overlooked in this game and I think that is a mistake.
Villanova is on a roll as well, and they deserve to be favourites in this game, but not the big 5 point favourites that the bookies have them at against another elite team.
Play: Kansas +5
I’ve given my spread picks above, but I actually feel the money line bets on both teams are the better wagers. You can get Michigan 1.42 and Kansas 2.95 at SportsInteraction.com to win the games straight up.