By Chris Carlson
#2 Duke vs. #8 North Carolina
The storyline for this Final Four matchup is something out of a Hollywood film pairing bitter-rivals meeting for the very first time at this stage. Duke is a minor favorite sitting at +4 but as we know it’s best to throw out the records and rankings in this setting. Although Duke had a difficult path as an 8th seed North Carolina had to go through 4 separate challenging opponents in Marquette, a 1 seed in Baylor, tourney tested UCLA, and then blowing the doors off the Cinderella story St. Peter’s. North Carolina was able to ruin an important night at Duke in Coach K’s last home game to close out the regular season. Prior to that, Duke demolished UNC on the road back in early March. Will Coach K ride into the sunset in a storybook finish to a brilliant career? Can North Carolina play the ultimate spoiler by defeating Duke and move on to the Championship game?
The Pick: In a competitive game Duke closes the door in the last few minutes.
#1 Kansas vs. #2 Villanova
All 4 programs in this year’s Final Four can be considered blue bloods with Villanova joining that group due to their recent success winning two national titles since 2016. On paper the more talented team is Kansas but talent only goes so far on this high level and teams that gel together as a unit generally rule the day. On paper Kansas is a 4.5 point favorite and guard Ochai Agbaji leads the way for the Jayhawks. On the other side of the coin Collin Gillespie is the straw that stirs Villanova’s drink. One could make an argument that we’ve seen both of these teams have more talent up and down the roster in years past. This college hoops junkie sees a pick’em type outcome in which the team that establishes their brand of basketball will by the one who advances on. If this game comes down to free throws like so many tight contests that would point strongly in favor of Villanova knocking down 15 of 15 against Houston in the Elite 8.
The Pick: Kansas gets by Villanova in a game decided under a minute.
National Title Game Duke vs. Kansas
Will Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks add another prize to put in their trophy case? Or will Duke beat Kansas making a perfect exit for one of the best coaches ever? Coming into the 2022 tourney Duke had the most talented roster bar none. Kansas of course has the pedigree and plenty of guys to get the job done as well. The size and caliber of athlete favors Duke and an unsung player in Jeremy Roach is the glue that keeps it all together as strange as it sounds. Roach lost his starting spot a while back but has been a key clog for a team that has so many mouths to feed on offense. If Roach is playing out of character on Monday Duke can always turn to the more highly touted Trevor Keels from a guard perspective. Look for Paolo Banchero and Wendell Moore to shine for the Blue Devils as well.
The Pick: Duke writes the last chapter in a wonderful story for Coach K.
Written by Chris Carlson Host of The College Ball Show Podcast available at blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio