The 2022 Men’s Final Four® in New Orleans will have plenty of blue and plenty of familiar faces. We aren’t complaining. In Mike Krzyzewski’s final year, Duke will meet hated cross-town rival North Carolina for the FIRST TIME in the NCAA Tournament! And the appetizer to that game? Kansas and Bill Self facing off with Jay Wright’s Villanova Wildcats. Sign us up!
We got plenty of madness and surprises during this year’s tournament, headlined by 15-seeded Saint Peters, but now the story centers on college basketball’s big boys. Sure, North Carolina are an 8-seed this year, but the Tar Heels have gotten hot at the right time. First-year coach Hubert Davis notched the program’s record-setting 21st trip to the Final Four after turning Saint Peters back into a pumpkin on Sunday night. Kansas and Villanova navigated their way to the Final Four with limited resistance and their showdown – a rematch of the 2017/18 Final Four – will be a battle of two of the most notable coaches in College Hoops. You won’t want to miss either game, or the National Championship. Check out the schedule below, followed by our preview.
Men’s Final Four®
Saturday, April 2
6:09 PM ET – #1 Kansas vs. #2 Villanova – TBS
8:49 PM ET – #2 Duke vs. #8 North Carolina – TBS
Monday, April 4
7:20 PM ET – TBD vs. TBD – TBS
No. 2 Villanova vs No. 1 Kansas – 6:09pm ET – TBS
Current odds Via DraftKings: Kansas -4.5 – O/U 132.5
Two of College Basketball’s most popular coaches will get the party started on Saturday. Jay Wright and Villanova won it all in 2015/16 and 2017/18, but they come into the game with some tough news. Junior starting guard Justin Moore suffered a torn achilles in the final 35 seconds of their Elite Eight® victory over Houston. Moore was their second leading scorer and best defender, so for a team that barely turns to their bench, it’s a major blow to the Wildcats. However, it’s not the first time Nova has suffered a key injury late in the season; last March, they lost their best player, Collin Gillespie, to a season-ending knee injury. Senior Caleb Daniels will slot in, and is a great player, especially from three, but Chris Arcidiacono and Bryan Antoine will be key to Nova’s success. Both haven’t seen much time during the tournament, and with a big, athletic Kansas team on the other side, Villanova will have to avoid foul trouble.
Bill Self and the Jayhawks are back in the Final Four for the first time since 2017/18, where they lost to, you guessed it, Villanova. Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun headline the Jayhawks’ attack, while Arizona State transfer Remy Martin is their wildcard. Kansas can get sloppy at times and lack rhythm offensively, which is a good sign for ‘Nova’s lockdown defense, as the Wildcats need to muddy this game up as much as possible. But if foul trouble mounts, or Kansas gets into a flow offensively, as they did when outscoring Miami by a whopping 32-points in their second half comeback win, then Villanova won’t have the horses to keep up.
No. 8 North Carolina vs No. 2 Duke – 8:49pm ET – TBS
Current odds via DraftKings: Duke -4 – O/U 151
Duke-North Carolina is College Basketball’s biggest and most intense rivalry, no doubt about it. The two schools – just 10 miles apart – have played each other 256 times, but have somehow NEVER met in the tournament. Put it to you this way: if someone told me that in Mike Krzyzewski’s final year coaching the Blue Devils, he would meet his arch-rival in the dance, I’d say that’d be an epic, almost unbeatable way to cap off his career. The fact it comes in the Final Four is right on the edge of simulation discourse. But here we are, and that’s what we got.
Come Saturday April 2nd, it will have been 28 days since North Carolina pulled off a 94-81 victory over Duke to spoil Coach K’s final home game at Cameron Indoor Stadium. It’s a mark that Tar Heel fans will hold over Duke until the end of time, but Coach K’s team will have a chance to have the last word. Beating UNC in the Final Four, en route to a national championship in Coach K’s final season, is as close as you can get to whiting out that loss.
The Tar Heels, meanwhile, are probably the hottest team in the country. They demolished Shaka Smart’s Marquette Golden Eagles, ended Baylor’s dream of back-to-back championships, and snuck one out against a UCLA team that was last year’s Final Four darling. Duke has had down moments, but they bounced back each time, culminating in a dominant performance against Arkansas. It’s a waste of time to do a deep analysis of this matchup: Both teams can get hot, both teams can have droughts. This is going to be about execution and heart. North Carolina is rolling, but losing to the Tar Heels earlier this month might have been just what Duke needed to get back to the Final Four. This is Coach K’s moment. The team felt they had let him down on March 5th, and I simply can’t see them losing AGAIN on April 2nd. But, it is March Madness® after all.