Final 4 Pick
To be the best, you have to beat the best and that’s exactly how these teams got to the Final Four. Oklahoma started things off Saturday by easily disposing of Oregon, and Villanova closed them, taking down the No. 1 overall seed Kansas at night. And now, they’ll meet for a chance at the national championship.
Now with a win over Kansas, Villanova may have the most impressive run to the Final Four. A lot of people doubted the Wildcats could even reach the Sweet 16 this year after how they finished the last two seasons. But they took that to heart and ran through their first Games, dismantling Iowa and Miami with ease. They battled with the Jayhawks and finally pulled away at the end. Most impressively, ‘Nova held one of the best and most diverse offenses in the country to just 59 points.
Oklahoma’s run probably hasn’t been as impressive, as they did struggle to finish off VCU in the round of 32. But still, the Sooners didn’t have any trouble with a bigger Texas A&M team and then led by double digits most of the way against Oregon. Buddy Hield has been incredible and the reason the Sooners are in this spot. He hit eight 3s against the Ducks for 37 points, his second time reaching 36 points in two Tournament Games.
The obvious matchup to watch will be how Villanova deals with Buddy Hield. These teams actually met in Hawaii back in early December, so that result should be taken with a grain of salt, although Oklahoma dominated 78-55. This was before Hield became the frontrunner for National Player of the Year as the Sooners had five different players reach double figures with Hield scoring 18. On the other end, the Wildcats were horrendous and probably played their worst Game of the season, going a terrible 4-of-32 from long range.
Part of that was probably due to Villanova’s first Game in Hawaii, and it’s hard to see that happening again with how well they are playing as a team right now. The Wildcats took out Perry Ellis last Game and will aim to do the same to Hield in this one, although it will be a bit tougher as Hield isn’t really a guy you can take away completely. The important players for Oklahoma in this Game will be fellow guards Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard. Cousins will need to take care of the ball, and Woodard will be needed to hit a shot or two.
The Sooners haven’t gotten much offensive production from the frontcOurt in the Tournament and that’s not a big deal. But Khadeem LAttin and Ryan Spangler will be needed on the defensive end in this matchup. Oklahoma won the rebound battle in that first meeting and will need to do so again to get the win.
‘Nova gets wide-spread production from all of their starters and that includes big man Daniel Ochefu, who made some big plays for the Wildcats down the stretch against Kansas. Limiting his effectiveness will be at the top of LAttin’s list. But to beat Villanova, you need to take out the guards. Kansas did its best, but the Jayhawks struggled just as much on their end.
While Oklahoma brings in a top backcOurt, Villanova is right on that level, especially after what they did to Kansas. Ryan Arcidiacono is the man behind everything at point guard, and while he didn’t have a huge Game against Kansas, he ran the show. The Wildcats are still looking for a breakout Game from leading scorer Josh Hart and this could be it, although it’s likely Hield will be on him. That could be a fun matchup.
Oklahoma will need to deal with Villanova’s length and pressure better than Kansas, otherwise that could be the end. Mikal Bridges came off the bench for the Wildcats last Game and had five steals due to his size in the backcOurt.
Villanova is playing great, but who wants to bet against Buddy Hield right now?
Our Pick – Villanova -2