Final Four previews, predictions

Charles getting fired up for San Antonio while singing to Samuel L and Spike in a Capital One Commercial

Home, home on the range, where the deer and the cantaloupe play.

Four stellar teams collide in the 2018 Final Four at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Star power is through the roof good in these 2 classic matchups. Can Sister Jean and her Loyola Chicago Ramblers move on to the National title game Monday Night or will the Wolverines of Michigan derail the Ramblers' dream run through the tournament. The great Villanova Wildcats team squares off with a fantastically talented Kanas team as 2 of the blue bloods of college basketball play for a shot at winning it all.

Here's a look at the games along with White's World's predictions for who will be playing Monday Night.

 

First semifinal

Loyola Chicago (32-5) vs. Michigan (32-7)

Alamodome, San Antonio, 72,000

5:07 PM CT

TBS

Jim, Raft, Grant, Trace

Michigan by 5 1/2

How they got here

Loyola, Round 1, 64-62 over Miami on last second 28 foot 3 pointer by Donte Ingram, 63-62 over Tennessee in the second round on a 7 foot leaner by Clayton Custer that bounced off the rim hit the backboard and fell through the net. That's when it was obvious this team meant business. 69-68 over Nevada in the Sweet 16 and 78-62 over Kansas State in the Elite 8.

Michigan, First round 61-47 over Montana, second round, 64-63 over a strong Houston team in which freshman Jordan Poole cooly sank a 28 foot 3 pointer at the buzzer to help the Blue move on. 99-72 over Texas A&M in the Sweet 16, and 58-54 over Florida State in the Elite 8.

Key players 

Loyola

 Guard Clayton Custer, 13.2 points per game, guard Ben Richardson, 7.0 per game, but scored 23 in the victory over K State including 6-for-7 from trifecta range. Marques Townes 11.2 points and sank a massively clutch 3 pointer late in the Nevada game to seal the game.

 Michigan

Center Mo Wagner, 14.3 ppg, 6.9 rbg. Scored 21 against A&M and can be a dominant player. Guard Charles Matthews 13.0 ppg, 5.6 rbg, 2.5 assists, Scored 18 against A&M and 17 against FSU. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, 12.8 ppg, 3.9 rbg, 3.3 assists. Scored 24 against A&M and had 7 assists. When he gets going Michigan really cranks it up.

Decision

Sister Jean has been a great story. She's inspiring. But the media has overblown it some. It's not SJ's fault, but it's gotten a little tiresome. Still a great run for her and her team, and this is a very formidable group and a very tough out. Still I'm highly bullish on this Wolverines team. Mo Wagner, Charles Matthews and Abdur-Rahkman are superb players and there are other highly skilled players around them. Both teams can shoot, and really get after it on defense. I'm looking at a very tight, close contest here, but I'll go with the Blue.

Michigan 74, LC 71

 

Second semifinal

Villanova (34-4) vs. Kansas (31-7)

Alamodome

7:49 PM CT

TBS

Jim and company

Nova by 5

How they got here

Nova, 87-61 over Radford, 81-58 over Alabama, 90-78 over West Virginia in the Sweet 16 and 71-59 over Texas Tech in the Elite 8.

Kansas, 76-60 over Penn, 83-79 over Seton Hall, 80-76 over Clemson in the Sweet 16 and a tremendously exciting 85-81 overtime victory over Duke in the Elite 8.

Key players

Kansas

Guard Malik Newman, 14 ppg, 4.9 rbg, 2.1 apg. Scored 32 against Duke, was 5-for-12 from triple and 11-of-12 from the stripe. Superb player. Devonte' Graham. 17.2 ppg, 4.1 rbg, 7.3 apg. The heartbeat of the team, the point guard just makes things happen on the court for the Jayhawks with his pinpoint passing, his defense and his pretty accurate shooting. Scored 29 against Penn in the first round, 16 against Clemson in the Elite Eight and had 11 points and 6 assists against Duke. He also had 9 assists against Seton Hall in the second round. Udoka Azubuike, 7'0", 280 pound senior. Just a dominator in the paint. He had 14 points and 11 boards against Clemson. and 9 points and 8 boards against Duke. Superior talent and disrupter in the middle. Kansas has an advantage with Azubuike. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. 14.7 ppg, 4 rebounds, 3 assists. Scored 16 against Seton Hall in round 2 and 11 against Duke including the game tying trifecta that sent the game into overtime. He's a super clutch shooter. Prolific from long range. Wow, there is some serious talent on this squad.

Nova

Jalen Brunson, 19.2 ppg, 4.6 assists. Now this guy is another heart and soul player for his team, like Graham is for Kansas. Scored 27 against West Virginia in the Sweet 16 going 8-for-15 from the field, 3-for-6 from deep and 8-for-9 from the stripe. He added 15 against Texas Tech in the Elite 8. Really outstanding junior. The leader of this basketball team. Mikal Bridges, 17.8 ppg, 5.4 rbg. Another awesome talent. The junior guard poured in 23 against Alabama, 16 against West Virginia in the Sweet 16 and 12 against Texas Tech in the Elite 8. Eric Paschall, a 6'9", 255 pound power forward averaged 10.3 ppg and 5.3 boards. Posted 12 points and 14 rebounds against Texas Tech. When he gets going on the boards, he can dominate. Really important player for Nova. Donte DiVincenzo, 12.9 ppg, 4.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists. Scored 18 against Alabama, and 12 against Texas Tech. Just a scrappy, hard-nosed northeastern player. Fits the Philly prototype well. Another extremely important player on this basketball team.

Decision

These 2 teams are superbly talented with great shooters, great rebounders and lockdown defenses, particularly Nova's D. This is as tough a pick as the first one, but I'll take the 2015 national champions to get another shot at a national title. But Kansas will give them everything they want. Should be a spectacular basketball game.

Villanova 78, Kansas 76