#2 Villanova (34-5) vs. #1 North Carolina (33-6) (9pm ET Monday, TBS)
On Saturday, the Villanova Wildcats unleashed a tenacious D and a white-hot shooting hand that culminated in the biggest blowout in NCAA Final Four history. The ‘Cats defeated the Oklahoma Sooners 95-51, hitting 71% from the floor, including 61% from three-point land, while junior guard Josh Hart led all scorers with 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting. As a team, Villanova was so hot of the eight guys who hoisted a shot, only one of them, Darryl Reynolds, hit on less than 60%, and to be fair, he only missed on his lone attempt.
Villanova’s defensive effort was equally suffocating as they held the Sooners to a season-low 55 points (their previous low had been 63) and a season-low 32% shooting, while limiting the tourney leading scorer, Buddy Hield, to just nine points on four-of-12 shooting. Villanova has been the most dominant team in this year’s tournament, having won their five games by a tourney-best average of 24 points, engineered four of the 15 biggest blowouts in this year’s Big Dance, all while playing nationally ranked teams in four of their five games. This is Villanova’s 11th March Madness appearance and second Final Four under head coach Jay Wright in the past 12 years. Overall, the Wildcats have been to five Final Fours, making this year their third Final. Their lone title came in 1985 with an historic upset of the Patrick Ewing-led Georgetown Hoyas.
The North Carolina Tar Heels had only slightly more trouble with the Syracuse Orangemen in a game that was tied after 12 minutes of play before UNC pulled away to head into the half up 39-28. Syracuse slowly fought their way to within seven midway through the second half, but Marcus Paige hit three three-pointers to help the Heels’ 26-16 run on their way to an 83-66 victory. For all his sharpshooting down the stretch, Paige was just the Tar Heels’ fourth-leading scorer as Brice Johnson and Justin Jackson each had 16 and Kennedy Meeks kicked in 15 more while their fifth starter, Joel Berry II, scored just eight points, but made up for it with seven boards and 10 assists. UNC has faced far lesser competition on their road to the finals, having played just one nationally ranked team, #14 Indiana, and have not been nearly as dominant with a point differential of “just” 16. However, while Kansas got within five points of beating ‘Nova, UNC has outscored everyone by at least 14. This marks the Tar Heels’ 19th Final Four and their ninth Final with five titles under their belt. Head coach Roy Williams has previously led the ‘Heels to titles in 2005 and 2009, a third title would break his tie with UNC legend Dean Smith for most in school history.
Watch the Villanova Wildcats vs. the North Carolina Tar Heels 9pm ET Monday on TBS. Villanova fans can watch the game with Wildcat-friendly announcers on truTV, and Carolina fans can watch with Tar Heel-partisan commentary on TNT..