March Madness on Sling: The Final Four

Apr 02, 2016 by Scott Ross

#2 Villanova (33-5) vs. #2 Oklahoma (29-7) (6:09pm ET Saturday, TBS)

The Villanova Wildcats didn’t have anyone score more than 13 points, no one grabbed more than eight rebounds, or dished out more than three assists, but they still managed to defeat the number-one-seed Kansas Jayhawks 64-59. Kansas pulled within one with just 17 seconds to play, but ‘Nova made four free throws down the stretch for an 18-of-19 finish, to send the Wildcats to their first Final Four since 2009, their fourth overall. They won it all back in 1985, defeating Georgetown in one of college basketball’s great upsets – something they seem to specialize in.

The Sooners upended the top-seeded Ducks 80-68 after they built themselves an 18-point halftime lead to coast home. Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, leading the tourney in points per game with 29.3, led all scorers with 37 points on 13-of-20 shooting while Oregon managed to hit just four of 21 threes. This is the Sooners’ first Final Four since 2002 and fourth overall. Oklahoma buried ‘Nova 78-55 back in early December, on a night when the Wildcats made just four of 32 from three-point land and the Sooners had the advantage in rebounds and assists.

#10 Syracuse (23-13) vs. #1 North Carolina (32-6) (8:49pm ET Saturday, TBS)

If Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim hasn’t yet started whining about how little respect his Orangemen get, headlines like ‘Is Syracuse The Worst Final Four Team Ever?’ are sure to get him going. But in the wake of a 68-62 victory over top-seeded Virginia, after being down 14 at the half, who cares whether the Orangemen are respected or not? Syracuse rode a 20-4 run midway through the second half to take the lead. From there, it was all smooth sailing. This is Syracuse’s first Final Four appearance since 2013 and fifth overall; they won their sole title in 2003.

The North Carolina Tar Heels are the last top-seeded team still standing in this year’s tournament, following an 88-74 defeat of Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish shot 55% from the field and turned the ball over just six times, but it wasn’t nearly enough as UNC shot 62% from the field and totally dominated the boards 31-14. It’s the ‘Heels first Final Four since they won it all in 2009, their fourth under coach Roy Williams, and 19th overall – the most in NCAA history. The Tar Heels were 2-0 against Syracuse in ACC play this year, most recently beating them 75-70 on Leap Day.

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