Final Four 2022 – Best moments and breakdown of Villanova-Kansas and North Carolina-Duke

The calendar has moved to April, but we have reached the penultimate night of March Madness. Saturday’s Final Four 2022 action in New Orleans features the bluest matchups and corresponding ticket prices.

Between the Kansas Jayhawks, Villanova Wildcats, Duke Blue Devils, and North Carolina Tar Heels, the schools have combined to win 17 NCAA championships and produced college basketball and NBA legends.

The No. 2-seeded Wildcats took on the No. 1-seeded Jayhawks to start the night. It was the fourth time Kansas coach Bill Self and Villanova’s Jay Wright have faced these schools in the Sweet 16 or beyond. Each time the winner took the title – setting a positive precedent for Self’s side, who won 81-65.

Then the Tobacco Road rivalry between Duke and UNC takes on new stakes. These schools, separated by about eight miles in North Carolina, meet for the first time in the Final Four. This will be UNC coach Hubert Davis’ first Final Four as a coach and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski’s last. Coach K has won 101 NCAA tournament games. Two more and he’ll close his storied career in storybook fashion.

On the court, Duke should have the talent advantage. The Blue Devils have two of the top eight draft prospects in the class this year. Paolo Banchero is Duke’s leading scorer, averaging 17.1 points.

We have analysis and highlights from every game.

Kansas Scenes

Stack the dots

Five different Kansas players conceded a 3-pointer tonight, and this one came in dramatic fashion as Christian Braun beat the clock buzzer.

Big man jam

A significant portion of the Jayhawks offense has been behind the arc, but this recall from McCormack shows the damage they can do from the edge.

Nova continues to scratch

The Wildcats tried to pull themselves out of a double-digit deficit for most of the game, and that 3-pointer from McDaniels was a big contribution to the team’s comeback effort.

Jayhawks dominate early, then Nova recovers

The version of Kansas that beat Miami 47-15 in the second half of last weekend’s regional final came back with an early vengeance against Villanova. Ochai Agbaji had 12 points and the Jayhawks drained seven 3s en route to a 40-29 halftime lead over the Wildcats.

Bill Self’s side were dominant on both sides of the ball for much of the first half. Agbaji made a 3 on the first possession of the night, and on the other end KU repeatedly trapped and frustrated the usually unfazed Collin Gillespie.

Kansas started the game with a 10-0 run and the Jayhawks stayed in control for the first 15 minutes. Then the Wildcats capped their own 10-0 streak with three offensive rebounds on a single possession from Brandon Slater. Slater’s hard work on the glass resulted in a Gillespie 3 and a frustrated Self called timeout.

The thinking of the game was that the Jayhawks could use their size to gain an advantage. David McCormack made it wise with 13 points in the first half, many of which came early on post-ups deep in the paint.

If there was a surprise, however, it was that KU was unable to put this size to good use on their defensive lens. Villanova had nine offensive rebounds, and those second chances are pretty much the only thing keeping the Wildcats in this game.

Villanova must be happy that Christian Braun and Remy Martin combined for just three points. Again, Kansas didn’t need it. Agbaji and McCormack carried the charge for an offense that scored 40 points on just 30 possessions.

The game proceeds at the Wildcats’ preferred pace, but Jay Wright’s team was unable to get any saves. An adjustment that could help in the second half? Watch to see if the Villanova defenders stay on Agbaji and refuse to help with dribble penetration. — John Gasway

Dickie V’s Picks

Pre-game fun

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