And Then There Were Four
After weeks of basketball and 64 (if you count the play-in games) other teams dropping off, we are now down to just 4 teams remaining. On Saturday, the final four teams will battle it out to see who plays in the national championship game on Monday. In the first matchup of the day, No. 1 Virginia will take on No. 5 Auburn with a 5:09 pm start followed by No. 2 Michigan State versus No. 3 Texas Tech, which starts at 7:49 pm. Let’s take a look at how the four made it to Saturday:
The Virginia Cavaliers were able to hold off the surging Purdue Boilermakers 80-75 to make it to the Final Four. In the win, Kyle Guy had 25 points and 10 rebounds while Ty Jerome added 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists. In the loss, guard Carsen Edwards exploded for 42 points. Unfortunately for Purdue fans, he did not get a whole lot of support as no other Boilermaker scored double digits.
After dismantling the North Carolina Tar Heels 97-80 in the previous round, No. 5 Auburn was able to take out No. 2 Kentucky to get to the Final Four. Despite the loss of Chuma Okeke, Auburn was still able to get the scoring needed to take out the Wildcats. Jared Harper led the way with 26 points while Bryce Brown added 24 points. In the loss, PJ Washington led the Wildcats with 28 points and 13 rebounds.
Texas Tech was able to take out No. 1 seeded Gonzaga, 75-69 to earn their berth in the Final Four. In the win, Jarrett Culver led the way with 19 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals while Matt Mooney chipped in 17 points, 5 assists and 3 steals. In the loss, Gonzaga’s Rui Hachimura had 22 points and 6 rebounds.
Michigan State survived a matchup of two of the best teams in the tournament when they beat Duke, 68-67. Cassius Winston led the team with 20 points and 10 assists while Xavier Tillman added 19 points and 9 rebounds. Kenny Goins also was solid with 10 points and 9 rebounds. In the loss, Zion Williamson had 24 points and 14 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to knock off Tom Izzo and the Spartans.
Ja Morant And Others Make It Official
It not very surprising news, Ja Morant has made it official and is declaring for the NBA draft. The Murray State Racer had a phenomenal sophomore season and very well could be one of the top picks in upcoming NBA draft. While most believe that Zion Williamson is guaranteed to go number one overall, there is belief that Morant may have snuck in ahead of Zion’s teammate, RJ Barrett, for that number 2 spot. Morant not only had a spectacular regular season, but he also turned some heads in the NCAA tournament as well. On the season, Morant averaged a double-double with 24.5 points and 10 assists per game. He also shot 49.9% from the field and chipped in 5.7 rebounds per game. While the Racers (who went 28-5 on the season with Morant) will miss him, he has a bright future as he moves onto the NBA.
A couple of North Carolina Tar Heels have also decided to make the jump. Both forward Nassir Little and guard Coby White have decided to enter the NBA draft. This season, Nassir Little averaged 9.8 points and 4.6 rebounds while averaging 18.2 minutes per game. For White, he averaged 16.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game.
Lastly, Indiana guard Romeo Langford will also be making his way to the NBA next season. After going for 16.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists this season for the Hoosiers, the freshman intends to declare for the NBA draft in the coming weeks.
Buzz Williams Leaving Virginia Tech
It has been a week of lows for the Virginia Tech Hokies. After their great NCAA tournament run ended with a 75-73 heartbreaking loss to the Duke Blue Devils, they now have the unenviable task of trying to replace their coach. Head coach Buzz Williams has left the Virginia Tech campus to head to Texas A&M. Williams had success at Marquette, leading them to five NCAA tournaments and recently has led Virginia Tech to 3 straight appearances. This season, Virginia Tech was 26-9 and 5th in a loaded ACC. Despite being 5th in the ACC, they ranked 16th in the nation and got a 4thseed in the tournament. The Hokies loss is the Aggies gain, and they are hoping that he can work the magic that has made him so successful in past seasons. For the Hokies, the search is now on for a new coach.
The “Other” Tournament Finished On Thursday
While all eyes are on the Final Four Saturday and the National Championship on Monday, the other tournament finished up on Thursday. That is right, the NIT, which often hosts the best of the rest when it comes to teams that didn’t make the tournament drew to an end on Thursday with an 81-66 Texas Longhorns win over Lipscomb. In the final, Texas’ Dylan Osetkowski led the way with a double-double as he had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Jase Febres chipped in 17 while Kerwin Roach II had 16 points and 9 assists. In the loss, Lipscomb’s Rob Marberry had 17 points while Garrison Mathews had 15 points and 8 rebounds.