PHILADELPHIA — When the 61 games were done, the Final Four was not unpredictable, but, nevertheless, consists of a combination of four teams that was far from obvious. Nationally, Villanova probably was given less consideration than by those in Philadelphia and around the Big East who had seen enough to understand the essence of Jay Wright’s team. And Michigan State, under the radar in the Big Ten, played a near-perfect game Sunday to take out Louisville, the overall No. 1 seed.
North Carolina and Connecticut were no surprise. And nobody will be terribly surprised if they meet a week from Monday night in the championship game at Ford Field in Detroit.
Carolina and UConn will be solid favorites. Anybody who does not think ‘Nova has a chance just has not been paying attention. Are the Wildcats likely to beat UNC in the second game on Saturday? No. Is it possible? With this team, almost anything has to be considered, including a national championship.
Michigan State does not appear to have the firepower to hang with UConn, but the Spartans do have some serious athletes. Will that be enough to beat UConn? Again, unlikely.
UNC (32-4), UConn (31-4), Michigan State (30-6) and Villanova (30-7) are a combined 123-21.
Villanova’s win over Pittsburgh was one of the best games in tournament history. Given the stakes, the caliber of play, the back and forth, the comebacks, the crazy plays and the ending, it is right there on the list of great regional finals. Not Duke-Kentucky 1992, but really, really good.
The key play for Villanova was Dwayne Anderson’s steal, followed by a run-out/and one when the ‘Cats trailed by four.
The winning play was brilliantly called, beautifully set up and run about as good as a last-second play can be run.
Did you notice three Panthers defenders behind Scottie Reynolds when he caught the ball, leading to an instant fastbreak with the ball in the middle, the kind of situation a player like Reynolds has faced thousands of times in practices and countless times in games? All Reynolds had to do was make a good decision. And he surely did that.