March Madness: Men's Final Four features championship-caliber favs

New Orleans, Louisiana - The Final Four is set in the 2022 NCAA Men's basketball tournament, and all four stellar teams are looking to add to their respective collections of national championships.

Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski's legendary career could come to a close on Monday night, if not sooner, potentially with another national title under his belt.
Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski's legendary career could come to a close on Monday night, if not sooner, potentially with another national title under his belt.  © IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

Out of the two semifinal matchups taking place this weekend in New Orleans, the game sure to get the most attention will be the North Carolina Tar Heels taking on the Duke Blue Devils.

Throughout college basketball history, these two teams have played against each other 257 times.

But never in the NCAA tournament.

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Duke, the number-two seed out of the West Region, had a better regular season than North Carolina, but dropped their season-finale to the Tar Heels, and couldn’t out-duel Virginia Tech for this year’s ACC title over two weeks ago.

North Carolina, the eighth-seed out of the East Region, fell short of the ACC crown as well, but have been flying through the national tournament averaging 82.5 points per game as a team.

In other words, if Duke’s defense doesn’t seriously throw down the hammer on the Heels, the Blue Devils will have to fire at will and hope that they can outscore North Carolina for a spot in the final bracket.

The last time they played each other was on March 5, in a game that had UNC flirting with 100 points as they outgunned Duke 94-81, and was legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s (75) last home game of his career.

The Tar Heels would obviously want history to repeat itself this Saturday night. And it very well can, if junior forward Armando Bacot turns out another high-powered performance like the 22-point, 20-rebound effort he gave against Saint Peter’s on Sunday.

It’s rather fitting that Coach K’s season is coming to a close against his biggest adversary, but if this is where it ends, it means he’s going out with no national title in hand, and one game shy of an appearance in the final.

Former champs Kansas and Villanova vie for another title

Villanova Wildcats head coach Jay Wright has his team in a prime position to win the school's third title in the last seven years and fourth all-time.
Villanova Wildcats head coach Jay Wright has his team in a prime position to win the school's third title in the last seven years and fourth all-time.  © IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

In this weekend's second semifinal matchup, the three-time national champion Villanova Wildcats will go head-to-head against another three-time champ, the Kansas Jayhawks.

The Jayhawks, the only remaining one-seed in the tournament, came out of the Midwest Region looking to capitalize on their well-earned top spot.

The Wildcats, who have the most recent championship experience in the Final Four – having last won it all in 2018 – are looking to show the nation that head coach Jay Wright’s system is still formidable.

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Unless you’re heavy into sports booking, it’s been otherwise easy to overlook the second-seeded Wildcats, who have won an impressive 14 out of the last 15 games, including a run to the Big East title and the last four rounds of the NCAA tournament.

However, junior guard Justin Moore, the second-leading scorer on the team, will no longer be available after tearing his Achilles during Nova’s Elite Eight win over Houston this past Saturday.

If nothing else, this might open the door for head coach Bill Self and his Jayhawks to fly right into a shot at the school’s fourth national championship without much of a fight from the Wildcats.

And to make things easier for Kansas, their defense could be the key to victory on Saturday night, only allowing just under 60 points per game in the tournament so far.

This Saturday features the 2022 men’s Final Four, as Villanova takes on Kansas in the first game, followed by North Carolina going up against Duke.

Cover photo: IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

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