A guide to the Final Four: Villanova-Oklahoma, North Carolina-Syracuse tip off for national championship in Houston
AP Basketball Writer
March Madness lived up to its billing with all those upsets, crazy finishes and memorable performances.
Now that the calendar is turning to April, it’s time for the main event: North Carolina, Oklahoma, Villanova and Syracuse in the Final Four.
Houston, here they come — and it figures to be quite a show.
To get you ready, we’ve got a rundown of the matchups, the top teams and players before the games start on Saturday, April 2:
Oklahoma vs. Villanova. These teams met earlier in the season and the Sooners turned it into a laugher behind a barrage of 3-pointers, making 14 behind the arc in the 78-55 win. Expect this one to be much closer and more entertaining.
Syracuse vs. North Carolina. Round 3 for the ACC rivals. The Tar Heels won both regular-season meetings by wrecking Orange’s zone with their strong post play. Fail to figure out how to stop North Carolina inside and the Tar Heels could sweep into the title game.
Buddy Hield, Oklahoma. Don’t know who Buddy Buckets is, you haven’t been following college hoops — or sports, for that matter.
Brice Johnson, North Carolina. All-American is a matchup nightmare on offense and has become a shot-blocking menace late in the season.
Josh Hart, Villanova. On a team with no true stars, Hart stands out because of how hard he plays — on every play.
Michael Gbinije, Syracuse. Need a basket, rebound, assist or steal? He’s the man for the Orange.
Roy Williams, North Carolina. Hall of Famer vying for his third national title.
Jim Boeheim, Syracuse. Was suspended the season’s first nine games season for NCAA violations. May have done the best coaching job of his Hall of Fame career after he came back.
Lon Kruger, Oklahoma. Only coach to take five schools to the NCAA Tournament eyeing his first title.
Jay Wright, Villanova. Proved the critics wrong by getting the Wildcats to the final dance after all those early exits as high seeds.
BY THE NUMBERS
8 — Final Four appearances by Roy Williams, with Kansas and North Carolina.
10 — Syracuse’s seed in the NCAA Tournament, making the Orange the first No. 10 and fourth double-digits seed to reach the Final Four.
13 — Losses by Syracuse this season, most by a Final Four team since Wisconsin and North Carolina in 2000.
16 — North Carolina’s average margin of victory in four NCAA Tournament games.
19 — Times the Tar Heels have reached the Final Four. This is North Carolina’s first since 2009.
22 — Years since Lon Kruger last coached in the Final Four, with Florida.
29.3 — Hield’s scoring average in the NCAA Tournament.
2,835 — Combined victories by the four Final Four coaches.
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