After 64 games, 64 teams have been eliminated. Four remain.
And for the first time in three years, the Final Four, held at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, will have fans present.
Four blueblood men’s college basketball programs have arrived in Louisiana for the finale of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. In two days, one champion will cut down the nets.
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Final Four: Looking at the matchups in New Orleans
Caesars Superdome welcomes four of the most successful men’s college basketball teams when it comes to the NCAA Tournament.
That includes No. 8 North Carolina, which has won the third-most national titles in history with six. Just behind, No. 2 Duke has claimed five championships, while No. 1 Kansas and No. 2 Villanova have each won three.
No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Duke, 8:49 p.m. ET
For the 258th time, the Tar Heels and Blue Devils will meet on the court. But Saturday will mark the first time ever the storied rivalry takes place during the NCAA Tournament.
Only once since the field expanded to 64 teams has an 8-seed won the national championship: Villanova in 1985. North Carolina looks to become the second. But the Heels face an uphill battle against a powerful Duke squad riding high on sending coach Mike Krzyzewski off with a title in his final season.
What’s more, the last eight times Duke advanced to the Final Four, the Blue Devils went on to win the national championship five times. That includes the last two trips to the semifinals in 2015 and 2010. Duke has been one of the highest-scoring teams in the tournament, averaging 79.8 points per game that ranks second among the last four teams. However, the Blue Devils have led the tourney field by shooting 53.8% from the field.
Paolo Banchero has paced Duke with 18.5 points per game this postseason, hitting 53.3% of his 3-pointers.
On the other side, UNC makes its second Final Four appearance as an 8-seed, doing it in 2000 before losing to No. 5 Florida in the semis. This tournament, the Tar Heels have scored 82.5 points per game, the highest among the Final Four, led by two sharp-shooters. Brady Manek (21.5 ppg) and Caleb Love (18 ppg) have shot 47.1% and 37.5% from 3-point land and stand as two of the top long-range shooters in terms of 3-pointers made.
No. 2 Villanova vs. No. 1 Kansas, 6:09 p.m. ET
Bill Self and Jay Wright meet again in the Final Four, four years after they last went head-to-head. Then, Villanova came out on top en route to the national championship.
Now, top-seeded Kansas looks to turn its fourth semifinal appearance under Self into the coach’s second title. Remy Martin has scored 16.8 points per game to pace the Jayhawks, who have averaged 76 points throughout the tournament.
Villanova essentially comes in a man down after Justin Moore tore his right Achilles in the Elite Eight. That does not bode well for the Wildcats, who were already short on depth. Still, the best free-throw shooting team in NCAA has advanced with a clamp-down defense that has stymied opponents and held them to a mere 55 points per game.
Jermaine Samuels will surely need to pick up the pace, as he has led Villanova with 17.5 points per game on 50% 3-point shooting.
NCAA Tournament history of Final Four teams in Louisiana
Of the four teams left, North Carolina has enjoyed the most March Madness success in New Orleans, while Kansas has lacked it.
The Tar Heels won national championships in 1982 and 1993. In the latter tournament, UNC defeated Kansas in the Final Four.
Speaking of the Jayhawks, Kansas lost two national championships in the Superdome, in 2003 and 2012, the most recent under Self.
Villanova already has its own grudge match in the semifinals. The possibility of another lays ahead.
Should the Wildcats get by Kansas, and if North Carolina upsets Duke, we will get a rematch of the 2016 national championship. In that game, an instant classic in Houston, Kris Jenkins hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to defeat UNC and win the title.