Sooners, ‘Heels Favored to Meet in Madness Finale

By Ian Shimizu, Reporter

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After another year of true March Madness is winding down as April arrives. No one would be surprised if I said a few months ago North Carolina, Oklahoma and Villanova would be in the Final Four, but Syracuse would’ve stopped traffic.

The Orange have been one of the most surprising final four teams ever as they pulled off back-to-back comeback upsets against Gonzaga and number 1 seed Virginia. They are just the 4th double digit seed to make it to the Final Four.

Here are the TDC’s picks for who will cut down the nets in Houston:

Villanova (2nd seed, 33-5)  vs Oklahoma (2nd seed, 29-7)

In what should be a close game, a clash of number 2 seeds is the first matchup. Villanova cruised to the Elite Eight, where they then took down tournament favorites Kansas. The teams they took down in their path were UNC Asheville, Iowa, Miami, and Kansas. While they lack a superstar, their team is very well balanced with guys that can get it done at every position. Their leading scorer this year was junior Josh Hart. They feature an all-around offense that can do it all and one of the best defenses in the nation. However, they will have their hands full on defense against an Oklahoma team that shoots 43 percent from the 3-point line and 73 percent from the charity stripe. Of course, Buddy Hield is the main concern for Villanova. He is red hot after dropping 37 points against Oregon. He averages 25 for the year and shoots 50 percent. Oklahoma has taken down Cal-Bakersfield, VCU, Texas A&M, and Oregon. When these two clashed on December 7th, Oklahoma smashed Villanova by 23 points. However, both teams have changed a lot since then.

My Prediction: Oklahoma wins down the stretch. Buddy Hield comes up clutch and drops 27 points. The Sooners head to Houston. Score: 70-66

North Carolina (1st seed, 33-6) vs Syracuse (10th seed, 23-13)

If anyone picked Syracuse to go this far in the tournament, they must be students there. Most brackets had them going out to Dayton in the first round. After back-to-back comeback wins, the Orange find themselves somehow in the Final Four. Do I think they deserve to be there? No. They have had a fairly easy path: Dayton, Middle Tennessee, Gonzaga, and then Virginia, who I think was over-seeded. But who says they can’t get lucky again? I think they have a slight chance of pulling off the upset, thanks to surging momentum. Their leading scorer is junior Micheal Gbinije. Their offense is too inconsistent to give them a real chance, however. North Carolina is really the only team people picked to win it all that is still alive. Around 5 percent of brackets had one of the other three teams, while around 12 had UNC. They have beaten Florida Gulf Coast, Providence, Indiana, and Notre Dame. They have had probably the easiest path of all four teams so far, and that should continue here.

My Prediction: A very good overall team including likely tournament MVP Brice Johnson handle Syracuse fairly easily. UNC has already beaten them two out of two times this year, and it doesn’t look like Syracuse will stop them from doing it a third. UNC has a matchup with Oklahoma in the Championship game. Score: 88-76

Check The Daily Chomp Monday for the championship game prediction.

 

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