And just like that, there were four. Yes, the Kansas Jayhawks made a return trip to the Final Four this year, the only #1 seed to do so. They face Villanova. Here is a recap of how the Jayhawks made it to the Final Four for the 16th time overall and the 4th time under Bill Self.
They say that to make a Final Four that you have to be a solid team and have several things break your way. That’s very true of this year’s Jayhawks. The Hawks came out of the Midwest Region, where they saw #3 seeded Wisconsin upset by #11 Iowa State and #2 Auburn upset by #11 Miami. Obviously, KU would have had to potentially play only one of those teams, but as fate would have it, neither advanced past the Sweet 16. As you might remember, Auburn was ranked #1 for a good portion of the season, so an Elite Eight game with them would have been a great game, possibly a little more daunting than playing Miami.
KU won their last two games of the regular season to finish tied for the Big 12 Conference Championship with Baylor. Due to the tie breaker, KU received the #1 seed in the Big 12 Tournament. KU and Baylor had split their regular season matchups so they moved to head to head against the #3 Big 12 team, Texas Tech. KU split with the Red Raiders and Baylor lost twice to them, giving KU the top seed.
One thing about this year’s Final Four is the fact that all four teams are considered basketball “blue bloods,” which is, quite frankly, teams that have a track record for winning. Villanova is ranked 19th in the all-time wins column, however, over the last decade or so, they’ve been one of the winningest teams in basketball.
Now check this out, Kansas tops that list followed by #3 North Carolina and #4 Duke. That’s a LOT of winning basketball being represented. Let’s throw out a couple of odd facts about the games. This will be the first time that Duke and North Carolina have ever met in the NCAA Tournament. That’s quite impressive considering the fact that both of these teams are usually in the mix for a tournament run. It’s also Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski’s last season with the Blue Devils. What better way to go out than to beat your chief rival on the way to the National Championship game.
I’d love to see Kansas win the National Championship game, but just to be a part of the Final Four is incredible. We’ll definitely be watching!
–Rob Mooney | Metro Voice sports writer