The road to the Final Four does not start on Selection Sunday. For Villanova and Kansas, a trip to San Antonio is the realization of a dream that began six months ago when training began.
Villanova's season has always been Final Four or bust with so many returning talents and a championship pedigree. Kansas is a threat every year to come here as a true Blueblood and college basketball most consistent winner of the regular season.
Each of these four teams who stayed stopped had drastically different ways to reach the Alamodome. This is how Villanova and Kansas did it.
Greg M. Cooper USA TODAY Sport  What were the preseason expectations?
Villanova should be here. The Wildcats were the # 6 in the preseason polls, even after the big roster sales of a 32-win team the season before that included the departure of Star Wing Josh Hart and National Title game hero Kris Jenkins.
Villanova had made Jalen Brunson to take over his lead role, and co-star Mikal Bridges was ready for a jump. Villanova relied on internal development for everyone else – an ethos that defined the program and helped make it one of the most sustainable winners of the college hoop.
The way to March
For the first time since the founding of the "New" Big East, Villanova won the league in the regular season. Xavier claimed this honor even this year, as Nova swept the two-game series in the regular season.
Villanova was of course still fantastic. In the polls, he rose to first place six weeks after the start of the season on. It stayed there for a total of eight weeks, more than any other team this year. She won the Big East tournament with an overtime win over Providence, making her the No. 1 in the East Region.
How They Came
Villanova opened the tournament with a 26-point win over Radford and then defeated Alabama at 23 to reach the second weekend. A Sweet 16 match with West Virginia looked like a potential land mine. "Nova led twice at halftime, but then won at 12. An Elite Eight game against Texas Tech was never particularly close, the Wildcats scored a 12-point victory.
Bridges becomes one in June But he is a deadly scorer all over the yard, just ask Jevon Carter of West Virginia, arguably the country's best defender in this Brunson lost 27 points to 15 shots on him in the Sweet 16. Victory Brunson was already AP Player of the Year and is the favorite to win the prize for the tournament's best player when & # 39; Nova the X-Factor
Donte DiVincenzo, aka The Michael Jordan by Delaware aka The Big Ragu The redshirt Sophomore Guard scores a punching punch for "Nova", who already lost 18 points to Alabama in this tournament from He's likely to be the star of this team next year, and he could anticipate that with a big performance in San Antonio.
Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sport
What were preseason expectations?
Kansas embarked on a mission to write history this year. The Jayhawks had at least a 13-year succession won the regular title of the Big 12 and thus achieved a mark of UCLA in the 60s and 70s.
The Jayhawks started year four in the preseason polls, even after losing national team member Frank Mason to high school senior and star newcomer Josh Jackson to the NBA as a top five draft pick. Kansas' ability to remain so great even after losing his two best players is the ultimate testimony to his blue-bloodedness.
The Road to March
When Kansas stumbled to Washington and Arizona State in two consecutive home games (yes, the first was in Kansas City) in December, it looked like it was its toughest Big 12 title yet , The Big 12 looked
loaded. Of course, Kansas won the league two more games. The Jayhawks also won the conference tournament – a thing all four Final Four teams have in common.
How They Got Here
Kansas made short work of Penn in a 16-1 game. It became hairy afterwards. Seton Hall was late in the round of 32. Clemson was late in Sweet 16. Nevertheless, KU held the elite eight-match with Duke that everyone wanted to see. The game was an instant classic, with Grayson Allen missing a shot at the buzzer to win and Malik Newman scoring every Kansas point in overtime to secure the final four – berth.
Most Vital Player
Newman has entered the tournament, but Kansas has other wingmen (Svi Mykhailiuk, Lagerald Vick) who can also get hot. The answer here is Senior Point Guard Devonte Graham, Kansas' leading man all season. He has not yet had a breakout game in the tournament, but he will need one in his match with Brunson when KU wants to reach the title game.
Udoka Azubuike. A massive 280-pound center that shoots 77 percent of the field and 41 percent of the Foullinie. When he gets close to the ball, it's free cheese. When fouled, it's the ultimate adventure.
Greg M. Cooper USA TODAY Sport  Villanova 84, Kansas 77
These two teams have so many offensive weapons that should create an exciting up-and-down game in which to create looks in transition and from three points. It's so hard to beat Villanova in an uptempo game where the # 1 Wildcats Offensive can come out and do serious damage.
& # 39; Nova to the title game.