By David Czarlinsky
Tomorrow, March 31, the 78th Final Four will tip-off in San Antonio, Texas, featuring the No. 11 Loyola Chicago Ramblers, No. 3 Michigan Wolverines, No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks and No. 1 Villanova Wildcats.
This tournament has been full of upsets, blowouts and historic finishes. For the first time ever, a No. 1 seed lost to a No. 16 seed. This tournament is only the fourth in history to have two No. 1 seeds fail to advance to the Sweet 16. For the fourth time in history, a No. 11 seed has made it to the Final Four.
The first matchup is set for 6:09 p.m., where the Ramblers take on the Wolverines. Loyola-Chicago has won the hearts of basketball fans across the country throughout the tournament with help from their biggest fan, Sister Jean.
The Ramblers are currently on a 14-game win streak, the longest in the tournament, with their last loss coming on Jan. 31 at Bradley. They have had some close calls over the last two weeks against Miami, Tennessee and Nevada.
Although, they have outscored their opponents 274-254 in the tournament, three out of the four games that Loyola-Chicago has played thus far have come down to the final possession. Their biggest win came in the Elite 8 with a 78-62 win over Kansas State.
The Wolverines’ winning streak is just one game short of the Ramblers. Winning 13 in a row, the Wolverines came into the tournament as Big 10 Champions and have not lost since Feb. 6 at Northwestern. Only one of their games in the tournament has come down to the final possession; they have won their games by an average margin of 11.5 points.
This will be the fourth meeting of the two teams since Feb. 1, 1969, where Loyola won 112-100. Michigan won the other two meetings between the teams. The game should be entertaining with both teams ranking in the top-25 of defensive efficiency and the top-10 in points allowed.
The second matchup of the night will feature two number one seeds approximately 30 minutes after the first matchup concludes. The Wildcats and the Jayhawks will meet for the seventh time in history, the fourth in the month of March. The two teams are split 3-3 in their head-to-head matchups.
The Wildcats come into the game leading the nation in scoring with an average of 87 points per game and shootings 50% from the field. The Wildcats have won every game in the tournament by ten points or more with their average margin of victory sitting at 18.25 points.
The Jayhawks have had a more difficult road to get to where they are. Throughout the last four games, Kansas has come out victorious by only four points in each matchup. Kansas is coming off of their biggest win of the tournament with an 85-81 overtime win against Duke last weekend.
Both teams rank in the top-10 in offensive efficiency and in field goal percentage. Both teams are also ranked 40th in the nation with 36 rebounds per game.
The last time the two teams met was in the 2016 Elite Eight; Villanova won the game 64-59. Villanova won the championship that year with a buzzer-beater victory over UNC.
All four of the teams won their conference tournaments, so anything is possible as they have all proven momentum is key to making it in March. Between all four teams, each team has the same potential to reach the National Championship game and win it all.
The National Championship game will tip off at 9:20 p.m. on Monday night. Fans can watch all of the Final Four action on TBS and NCAA.com.