Media provided by Managing Editor, Naaz Valvani ’22.
March is behind us and four teams remain in the men’s NCAA tournament (Duke, Kansas, North Carolina and Villanova), how is each team shaping up against the competition?
Duke, the second seed, is competing for its sixth NCAA title. They’re led by Italian-American forward Paolo Banchero, who averages 17.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Banchero is projected to be a top three draft pick in the NBA next year. Duke’s Blue Devils are hungrier than ever to win, and even more so with Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s departure approaching at the end of this season. After serving as Duke’s head coach since 1980, Coach K takes the Final Four for the thirteenth time in his career, experiencing the madness of March more than any other NCAA coach. Backed with a solid supporting cast, Banchero, Coach K, and the enthusiastic fans, affectionately dubbed the “Cameron Crazies,” are ready for a win tonight against UNC.
The Kansas Jayhawks are competing for their fourth NCAA title, also making them a highly experienced and decorated team. Senior star Ochai Agbaji, who averages 18.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, is expected to be drafted around the thirteenth pick in this upcoming NBA draft. Led by Agbaji, Kansas is more than likely to take the title, but anything can happen in tonight’s game against Villanova.
For Pennsylvania’s Villanova Wildcats, the second seed in the Big East, tonight’s game against Kansas poses a huge question mark. Like Kansas, they are competing for their fourth NCAA championship, however, their team lacks a star player– with much of their roster scoring around the same number of points per game. Senior Collin Gillespie, their (marginal) leading scorer, is expected to go undrafted in contrast to Banchero and Agbaji.
The University of North Carolina (UNC) faces the challenge of the highly esteemed Duke Devils in their final four matchup. Historically, UNC has secured six NCAA titles and produced talents like Michael Jordan. Current Junior forward, Armando Bacot, leads the team in points per game at 16.5 and is the third leading rebounder in the NCAA with 12.8 per game. UNC’s Caleb Love and Brandy Manek both score over 15 points per game and led the Tar Heels to the second seed in their conference, yet neither of them are projected to be drafted this year.
Every team has their unique rosters and strengths, meaning that this championship is still up in the air. Surely, this year’s March Madness will be one to remember.