Welcome to the Truda Report everyone. Today the last four teams in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament face off and decide who moves on the Monday's Finals. It has been a crazy year in the tournament, especially in the West and South brackets. I'll be taking a look at both the West and South match up of Michigan vs. Loyola Chicago, and the two one seeds facing off, Kansas vs. Villanova. Make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow, and hopefully I've helped you up to this point with your brackets.
Loyola Chicago vs. Michigan:
This game could be one of two things, a thriller with an outcome that changes the history books, or a wash. I've liked Michigan all season long and had them making the Final Four, but then losing to Virginia (that obviously didn't work out). Because of that, I'm inclined to continue picking Michigan to win games. Loyola Chicago has been a true Cinderella story though, and they've continued to win close games against good teams. That's why I say, this could either be a Michigan dominated game, or one that goes down to the wire, and so far those down to the wire games have gone Loyola's way.
Currently, though, I'm leaning Michigan in this one. Once you get down to the Final Four, teams have had a solid couple of days of rest and time to prepare. I like John Beilein as Michigan's coach, and I think he'll have prepared his team well. The Wolverines have been great defensively all season long and the rest and preparation will definitely help continue that trend. Also, Michigan's best offensive player, Moritz Wagner, was in foul trouble pretty early on last game and yet the team was still able to put points on the board. This offensive success should continue against Loyola, and if the Wolverines continue to play lockdown defense this game should be a wash. I'm taking Michigan to win this game, and it is just because I think that the two best teams in the country usually end up playing in the Finals every year, and despite Loyola's historic run, they aren't better than Michigan. Trust me, I would love to see Sister Jean's squad in the Finals against a one seed, and I'll definitely be rooting for them tonight, but I think realistically this is where the road ends.
Kansas vs. Villanova:
I think that a lot of people, including myself, had this matchup in their Final Four. This is a battle of blue bloods, and of two coaches who could each one day end up in the Hall of Fame. Both of these programs are consistent and dynastic, so this should be a really, REALLY, good game. I had Villanova making it to the finals over Kansas because I think heading into the tournament they were head over heels the best team. Right now though, after witnessing Kansas come back to beat Duke in a really close game, I'm having second thoughts about taking Nova. Kansas showed they can be clutch, and I think that they've actually been really slept on this year. Usually there is a star player on the team that draws headlines, but I haven't seen too much of that this year. They've just been an all around solid team and I think that could actually be to their benefit in this game. Nova had been shooting the three point shot at a historic rate, and they are very reliant on the production of Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson. Kansas has the ability to limit the production of at least one of those two, and if they can continue to play balanced team basketball they could win this game. I'd also like to point out that all it takes is one bad game from three and the Wildcats are goners. Kansas, by the way, has also been good from three, shooting at about 41% while not being so hot that I'm concerned about a drop off in their percentage causing a huge decrease in quality of play. Nova is so reliant on the three that if they stop hitting their shots at this high of a rate, the offense could really struggle.
In the end though, I can't ignore Villanova's body of work so far this season. They've been great from three. They've been able to drive to the basket and get to the free throw line. Their defense has been solid enough to limit opponents best players from going for huge scoring totals against them. Villanova is good, really good, and I think deserves to win the championship. That being said, I'm taking Kansas in an upset victory over the Wildcats. The Jayhawks have been slept on too much this season, and they are going to come into this game with a chip on their shoulder. Nobody is picking them to win this game, and I think that based on what I've seen from them so far this tournament, they should win this game. Kansas has played much tougher competition than Nova has had to face, and I think that does a lot for the Jayhawks confidence coming into tonight, as well as their preparedness for their match up with Villanova. Don't be mad at me if Nova wins this game and you picked Kansas; I told you that I think the Wildcats are the best team and deserve to win the Championship. I just think that this matchup favors Kansas more than it does Nova, and I can't keep on sleeping on the Jayhawks this season.
Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. After an insane first two rounds of March Madness, the Sweet Sixteen is finally set. With the Southern bracket having lost all four of the top seeds, this is going to be an incredibly hard round to predict. I want to give my opinion though, and hopefully help some of you out with your "second chance" brackets. Make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow.
Loyola Chicago vs. Nevada:
Like I said earlier, the Southern quarter of the bracket has been totally demolished by upsets. It was widely considered the strongest section, especially defensively, and yet all four of the top seeds are eliminated. That degree of inconsistency makes this game incredibly hard to pick. I'm inclined to look at statistics from earlier this year to influence my decision, but clearly that hasn't mattered so far in March. Due to that I can only look at who these two teams have played so far, and in my opinion Loyola has easily had the harder path to this spot. What I think needs to be recognized though, is that Nevada has been the better team in its two games than Loyola has. That is causing me to say that the smart pick in this game is Nevada. BUT--if you're caught up in the Cinderella story of Sister Jean and her Ramblers, and you believe this team can continue their impossible run, than just say screw it, and take Loyola to win this game. I know that that's what I'm doing, because as a Butler fan, I know how fun these uncalled for runs really are.
Texas A&M vs. Michigan:
I think that it's safe to say that not many people saw A&M manhandling UNC in the round of 32. I know that I didn't, and because of that Texas A&M deserves serious consideration to win this game. In my bracket, though, I had Michigan upsetting UNC in this round, in what would have been an incredible upset. Now that Michigan is playing a team that I don't see as nearly the threat UNC was, I'm still going to pick Michigan. This team's defensive effort is one of my favorites in all of the NCAA, and they've made a lot of big threes in big moments. I do have to say, though, that I like Texas A&M defensively more than I did UNC, and to me that has a big affect on my picking process. I would not be surprised to see a lower scoring game because of this, but to me it's not enough to change the outcome. Michigan wins.
Kansas St. vs. Kentucky:
Kentucky is a five seed, and also the best remaining team in the Southern section of the bracket. To me this game is a no brainer. Kentucky pulls off a close(ish) victory to advance to the Elite Eight. This team should have been one and done this year in my opinion, but since they were fortunate enough to see all of the teams ahead of them be upset, John Calipari will have this team ready for this moment and ready to take advantage of this situation.
Florida St. vs. Gonzaga:
Gonzaga went to the championship game last year and just barely lost. They lost a couple of major pieces in the draft after that, but I actually like their roster better this year. They're much less reliant on their starting five, and sport one of the better benches in this tournament. I have Gonzaga winning this game in my bracket, and I'm going to stick with that. I think that Florida State's wins have been really impressive and a lot of people slept on them at the beginning of the tournament, but their run ends here.
Clemson vs. Kansas:
I hate to be so brief, and sort of cold, in my assessment of this game, but Kansas is going to win. I don't think I'll physically be able to exist anymore if another one seed loses to a team that has no business beating them. Sure, Clemson looked like the Warriors playing a high school team in their last match up against Auburn, but come on. Kansas has always been one of the more consistent one seeds, and there can only be so many upsets every year. I'm playing the odds here, and saying that Kansas wins this game. When you really break things down, if Clemson is firing on all cylinders offensively like they did versus Auburn things could get interesting, but I can't remember a time when I've seen them do that two straight games. So Kansas wins. End of story.
West Virginia vs. Villanova:
Villanova, in my opinion, is the best team left in the tournament. I don't think that there is any question about that. Despite that, this game scares me. When making my bracket this game really made me think long and hard. I really like West Virginia this year...and every year...but this more than others. There is something about how they pressure teams defensively that causes good teams to make bad mistakes. I'm going to say that Villanova ends up winning this game, but I think that if West Virginia wins the turnover margin by enough (say 6 or more turnovers fewer than Nova), they could come away with another upset. Like I said about Kansas though, I just have trouble seeing another one seed go down his early in the tournament.
Syracuse vs. Duke:
I think that Syracuse is magical...no, literally. One day, somebody must have cast a spell that said "whenever people think you're having a poor season, just barely make the tournament and then shock the world by beating a ton of good teams." Cuse has now had success against TCU, who was widely picked to beat the Orange, and against MSU, who many thought were a sleeper to win the whole tournament. I had MSU in the Final Four until Syracuse won in their First Four game. I then quickly changed my bracket around, and predicted Cuse would be right here, facing Duke in the Sweet Sixteen. I love the run that they've had, but sadly, I think that it'll come to an end on Friday. Duke is just a better team, and while a lot of great programs struggle against Syracuse's incredible zone defense, a coach like Mike Krzyewski will not have his team unprepared for this match up. I think Duke will be ready, and although there will be moments where they struggle, the Blue Devils will eventually come away with a win. It hurts me to come to that conclusion since I hate Duke, but it's the smart choice.
Texas Tech vs. Purdue:
I love Texas Tech this year. I hate Purdue this year. I can't deny, though, that Purdue has earned their two seed and won a lot of big games. I think that this is the best game of the entire Sweet Sixteen and it should be incredibly close. Honestly, I've swapped back and forth daily between who I think is going to win this game, and today I'm just in a Purdue mood. I'm going to say to take the Boilermakers in this one, but really, go with your gut. Mine seems to be really indecisive with this game so I'm not going to be a huge help. Also, when looking back at my two brackets, I have Purdue winning in one and Tech in the other, so that isn't helping me at all. Go with your gut...wait...wait a second, now my gut says go with Texas Tech. So yeah, trust yourself because clearly I'm not able to make a decisive decision with this one. Sorry. (If you really want to pick based on my decision take Purdue because they've won more big games, but its March so really, how much does that matter right now?)
High School Senior from Connecticut obsessed with sports stats, facts, and management.