The 2022 NCAA Tournament has been reduced to just four teams after 68 would-be challengers started in bracket play a few weeks ago.
The Duke Blue Devils, North Carolina Tar Heels, Kansas Jayhawks, and Villanova Wildcats are still alive in what has become a classic, old-school March Madness. A win will guarantee each team a spot in the national championship, and a loss will turn into the biggest “what if?” of the season.
Buckle up and prepare for two high-level matchups between four of the best programs in America.
Duke vs. North Carolina +4
The Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels are meeting in March Madness for the first time in tournament history, marking a momentous occasion for first-year Head Coach Hubert Davis and retirement-bound Mike Krzyzewski. The teams split the season series 1-1, with UNC handily winning the most recent meeting in Coach K’s final regular-season game.
The Tar Heels entered the tournament with the greatest boom-or-bust potential and have ridden the boom to this point; they have a matchup nightmare in big man Armando Bacot, who is one of the best rebounders in college basketball. Guard Caleb Love has also been on fire from outside, taking over games against Marquette, UCLA, and Saint Peter’s. Love’s biggest issue is resorting to taking bad shots, but if they are falling, even that cannot stop him.
Duke is one of the new teams with a matchup for Bacot in the form of Mark Williams, and their star freshman Paolo Banchero will be the best player on the court. However, Duke’s players have a lower motor than you would expect from such talented athletes, and they have allowed opponents to hang around in nearly every game dating back to the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. UNC has a very strong chance of winning, but falling back on the points should be a guarantee.
Villanova +4.5 vs. Kansas
The underdog strikes once again! The Villanova Wildcats are the best bet in the Kansas matchup because of its resilience and ability to overcome a multitude of factors— most notably, an injury to Justin Moore— and not budge an inch.
Styles make fights, which is a great example of that; The Kansas Jayhawks can go nuclear hot, as they showed in a 26-point win against Miami after they trailed at halftime, while Villanova is a more steadfast, consistent team with a steady diet of the fundamentals. As long as they don’t go down to begin the affair, they shouldn’t have problems keeping Kansas within arms reach.
Kansas will need to use its superior athleticism if it wants to disrupt Villanova’s usual game plan. However, that will be hard to come by with a squad that prides itself in playing efficiently on both ends of the floor. Villanova will also probably play at a slow pace to eliminate Kansas’ transitional threat, which will hamstring them even further.