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Ultimate Guide to the Final Four of the 2018 Men's NCAA Tournament



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      Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman

    Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman Associated Press

    From Loyola of Chicago's sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt to Michigans Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, The NCAA Final Four Men of 201

    8 is full of syllables and intriguing storylines.

    But it's just too much to keep up, right? In addition, there is always news about player transfers, coaches coming and going and high school all-star games that it is difficult to separate the news 2017-18 from everything else.

    No reason to sweat. We covered everything.

    Whether you're looking for information on free rates and three-point shots or the Big Ten national drought, here are all the important stories and topics (19659009) 1 of 8

      Mike Stewart / Associated Press

        19659005] The nationwide hysteria surrounding sister Jean has made Loyola-Chicago one of the most memorable Cinderella stories in the NCAA tournament history, regardless of whether the Ramblers are able to beat off the Michigan Wolverines.

        But do not let the 98-year-old team chaplain distract you from the fact that this is a damn good basketball team playing in a league (Missouri Valley) that lost its luster when Wichita State left the city to join the American.

        This is not an underdog story of a crew catching fire and riding this wave of the moment. And although the bracket has broken in such a way that the Ramblers have a slight draw to the Final Four, this is not a situation in which a team was lucky and repeatedly ran in squads that should beat it. Rather, it's about a 32-in-a-row team that has kept up with four top 40 teams and proven it's part of it.

        Loyola-Chicago only achieves fifth place in the nation with an effective field goal percentage as well as Kansas and Villanova. And with 63.5 allowed points per game in the tournament, the Ramblers on defense are as impenetrable as they were all season long.

        As long as it keeps its sales under control, there's a good chance that Loyola-Chicago will be the first two-digit seed for the national championship. Maybe the Ramblers could even be the least popular champions in the history of the sport.

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          Jalen Brunson

        Jalen Brunson Elise Amendola / Associated Press

        Villanova is not a blue blood program because it does not have the deep story of a Kentucky, North Carolina, or UCLA , But if you think that a team has been better in the last five seasons, just fool yourself.

        The Wildcats have occupied the top six places in the AP survey over the past five years, and three of them earned # 1 seed and a pair of # 2 seeds in the NCAA tournament, including winning the title in the Year 2016. They have a total score of 134-16 since the start of the 2014-15 season, which means they have won more games over a four-year period than any other program in college basketball history. *

        Villanova was focusing on this season and spent the entire campaign on KenPom.com in 1st and 2nd place. Even the dominant Kentucky teams from 2012 and 2015 spent a little time outside the top two, but not these wildcats. Thanks to one of the nation's best duos Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges -Villanova has played the role of national championship team for the past four and a half months

        And while Kansas, Loyola -Chicago and Michigan on the way to San Antonio each had a few close shouts, Villanova has an average advantage of 18.3 points in the tournament and still has to have a game decided by less than 12 points.

        If we get Loyola-Chicago against Villanova in the national championship game, that would be just as much a story of David versus Goliath as if Butler had almost overthrown Duke in 2010.

        * They did not play so many games per season when John Wooden and UCLA were on top of the world for more than a decade, but Villanova broke Duke's record of 133 victories from 1997- 2,001th

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          John Beilein

        John Beilein Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

        John Beilein was successful at every stop of his career.

        He got his division I leader in 1992 he started at Canisius. Within four seasons he had led the Golden Griffins to his only NCAA tournament since 1957. He then had five consecutive victories in Richmond before moving to West Virginia and the Mountaineers for the first time in a few decades. And in the last 11 campaigns, he has led Michigan to the NCAA tournament eight times, bringing the program back from the Fab Five scandal.

        Beilein has averaged more than 20 wins in his 26 seasons and earned a reputation as a coach, his teams seem to be much better in March than in November.

        Yet, he has never won a national championship, and this is only his second trip to the Final Four.

        Villanovas Jay Wright won a title two years ago and is already considered one of the best in the industry. The same goes for Bill Self, who won a championship in 2008 and led Kansas to 14 consecutive Big 12 games of the season. And while Porter Moser would certainly love a nice one, the coach is already a legend to get Loyola-Chicago so far.

        But Beilein has never achieved the national respect he deserves, which makes this weekend more critical for him than any other coach. When Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, Charles Matthews and Moritz Wagner bring their A-games, Beilein will join the club of coaches with a title.

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        Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press [19659005] If there is only one thing you should have learned from KenPom over the years, it is virtually impossible to have a national championship without an elite defense to win.

        Each of the last 16 NCAA tournament winners was ranked 18 or better in adjusted defensive efficiency. Nine of them finished in the top seven.

        And before you point out that this defensive ranking will improve more and more over the course of six straight wins, let's also point out that each of these 16 champions started the number one tournament. 39 or better in adjusted defense efficiency.

        Three of the four national semi-finalists are in good shape in this regard Michigan (4th), Villanova (14th) and Loyola-Chicago (19th). But even after four wins, Kansas is still ranked 40th in adjusted defensive efficiency and would have to pass practically to Villanova to finally reach the top 18.

        Can Kansas break or break this trend by winning the title – Not Great Defense Defeats the Jayhawks to a Final Four Farewell

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        Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

        the name of the game will be at Final Four.

        Michigan is the only team that fires more than 40 percent from the city center and it's not like the Wolverines are fighting in this division. Meanwhile, Loyola-Chicago is the only remaining team that does not try at least 41 percent of their shots from a three-point reach.

        Both Villanova and Michigan (Moritz Wagner) launch centers that shoot (19659006) Kansas launches a 6 "8" Shootout (Svi Mykhailiuk) as an effective force forward And although Duncan Robinson usually does not start to Michigan, the 6 "8" gunner plays more than 25 minutes per game as the Little Ball 4

        Each team has at least one big man in the basket. Kansas & # 39; Udoka Azubuike, Michigan's Jon Teske, Villanova's Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree and Loyola-Chicago's Cameron Krutwig have played more than 2,200 minutes this season without making a single threesome. In most cases, however, we are talking about teams that make their living along the perimeter.

        If you like three-pointers and ball movements, you'll love the Final Four 2018.

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          Moritz Wagner

        Moritz Wagner Jae Hong / Associated Press

        The Big Ten has been one of the best college basketball conferences in the country for years. Since 2001, this league has sent an average of 5.8 teams to the NCAA tournament. Only three times since 1985 this season, 2004 and 2008 the Big Ten have not invited at least five teams to Big Dance.

        But some good it has done for a league that has not won a national championship since Michigan State in 2000.

        There were many close calls along the way. Illinois (2005), Indiana (2002), Michigan (2013), Michigan State (2001, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2015), Ohio State (2007, 2012) and Wisconsin (2014, 2015) have made 12 trips to the Final Four together – once each in a national championship game. But the conference is getting scarcer, while teams from the ACC, Big East and SEC win titles.

        Can this Michigan team be the end of the drought?

        The Wolverines are the favorites in the final four game against Loyola-Chicago, but in the fight for all marbles, they would certainly be the outsiders against Kansas or Villanova.

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        Donald Miralle / Getty Images

        One of the most frustrating things about the NCAA tournament on an annual basis is the reigning one. Too often, great games or battles are clouded by some early whistles. (Cut to the fans of Gonzaga and Zach Collins, who nod gloomily.)

        But this year, there is good news. All four of these teams defend without fouling, and none of them are particularly adept at pulling contacts.

        In free felony on offense, Loyola-Chicago ranks 206th national. That's below the national average, but it's the highest among the remaining teams. Michigan is 258th, Villanova is 281st and Kansas is 330th. And in defensive free-thinking, we have Kansas in 14th place, Loyola-Chicago in 15th, Villanova in 29th and Michigan 88th.

        Those are a lot of numbers that you can throw at, but the morale of History is that free throws should be minimal, which means that the game should be excellent.

        The referees will probably still make sure that they are there with the occasionally painful long monitor meeting there, but lack the prospect of clean games foul annoyance is exciting.

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          Silvio De Sousa (22) and Svi Mykhailiuk

        Silvio De Sousa (22) and Svi Mykhailiuk Streeter Lecka / Getty Images

        Every time a high school recruiter decides to quit Overseas play, the national media overreact and suggest that this could be the trend that ended the college basketball.

        Counterpoint: College tires imported much more than exported. This year there are five major players coming either from Africa or from Europe.

        Kansas has three of these players, one of which has become the biggest story of the week before the national semi-final.

        Udoka Azubuike is from Nigeria, and his mother has never seen him play basketball. She and Kansas are working to get her travel visa approved so that she can finally see him on the biggest stage of the game. The Jayhawks also brought the highly acclaimed Mykhailiuk from Ukraine four years ago and Silvio De Sousa originally came from Angola.

        Villanova has no international athletes on his list, but both Michigan and Loyola-Chicago have one. Bruno Skokna was born in Croatia before he became a key reserve for the Ramblers, and Start Center Moritz Wagner came to Wolverines from Germany.

        That's nothing compared to last year. Between Gonzaga, Oregon and South Carolina there were players from England, Israel, France, Japan, Poland, Gabon, Estonia and Senegal, not to mention several from Canada. On a global level, the state of the game seems pretty strong.

        Statistics Courtesy of KenPom.com and Sports Reference

        Kerry Miller includes men College Basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @kerrancejames .


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