Ridaught: A true Final Four

The dust has settled from another exciting NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.

We’re down to the Final Four.

And after upsets such as St. Peter’s over Kentucky, a 15-seed beating a No. 2 seed, and No. 10 seed Miami beating No. 2-seed Auburn, the cream has risen to the top.

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All four teams are blue bloods rich with tradition.

We get a No. 1 seed in Kansas, which is the all-time winningest program in NCAA men’s basketball history, two No. 2 seeds (Duke and Villanova, who have combined to win eight national titles), and a basketball program that has more Final Four appearances than any other program (No. 8 seed North Carolina).

Duke missed the NCAA Tournament last year, while Kansas got crushed by USC in the second round and North Carolina lost to Wisconsin in the first round.

But they’re back, along with Villanova, which lost to eventual national champion Baylor in the Sweet 16.

It’s fun to pull for Cinderella. The run by Saint Peter’s is what makes March Madness so much fun.

But when we reach the end of the tournament, I believe most of us want to see the heavyweights go head-to-head.

Would you rather see St. Peter’s vs. Duke or Duke against North Carolina for the right to play for the national championship?

North Carolina advanced to its record 21st Final Four with a 64-49 wire-to-wire victory against the Peacocks.

As Pat Forde of SI.com wrote, “the NCAA tournament has an endearing history of keeping Darwinism at bay for two weeks. Three is another matter. Survival (and advancement) of the fittest remains the immutable law of the latter stages.”

Kansas defeated Providence in the Sweet 16, and then turned a 6-point halftime deficit into a 76-50 rout of No. 10 seed Miami in the Elite Eight.

The Jayhawks passed Kentucky for the most victories and then picked up their 2,355th victory against Providence in the Elite Eight.

Then you have retiring Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who led the Blue Devils to the Final Four for the 13th and final time in his career, another basketball record.

Duke is back following a 78-69 win against Arkansas.

Prior to the tournament, Duke was the top pick at Caesars Sportsbook, and they are the odds-on favorite to win it all.

Kansas (32-6) will play Villanova (30-7), which ground out a 50-44 win against Houston, at 6:09 p.m. on Saturday in the national semifinals in New Orleans (TBS), followed by Duke (32-6) and North Carolina (28-9) at 8:49 p.m. 

Despite 257 all-time meetings, Saturday will mark the first time that Duke and North Carolina have met in the NCAA tournament.

North Carolina (21), Duke (17), and Kansas (16) have more Final Four appearances than Villanova (7), but the Wildcats have won two of the past five national titles.

The national championship game is scheduled for Monday, April 4.

 

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