Men’s Final Four Preview: The Battle of the Low Seeds
One of the most exciting parts of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament is the upsets. But once the Final Four teams are left, the top two seeds in the regions usually are well represented.
Since 2000, the national champion has been seeded lower than two only four times. The last time this occurred was in 2014 when UConn won it as a seven seed.
But this will happen this year as the remaining seeds are four, five, five and nine in what has been one of the most unpredictable months of March the Men’s Tournament has seen.
The weekend will start with San Diego State facing Florida Atlantic on Saturday.
FAU has proven to be a versatile team throughout the tournament. It was able to win a 62-55 defensive game against Tennessee and then followed it up with a 79-76 win over Kansas State.
Against Tennessee, FAU were able to play a slow game and hold the Volunteers to a field goal percentage of 33.3%. But the Owls were also able to play a fast-paced game against Kansas State where FAU shot 48.1% from the field.
Offensively, the Owls have been led by sophomore guards Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin. Davis has had at least 10 points in every game in the tournament while Martin has eclipsed 10 points in three of the four.
Defensively, sophomore center Vladislav Goldin has dominated the paint for FAU. His size alone wards off defenders and allows him to get a block or two a game.
But it is no secret that San Diego State is one of the best defensive teams in the country. Where it operates best is shutting down the 3-point shot.
The Aztecs’ opponent three-point percentage is 27.9% on the season. They also allowed a combined fivemade three pointers against Alabama and Creighton.
San Diego State has also proven it can have a player step up offensively no matter who it is. It has had a different leading scorer in all four tournament games.
The Aztecs will make an opposing team play their type of game and they have multiple players that can lead the team offensively.
This matchup should be the closer of the two because UConn has dominated its opponents on the other side of the bracket.
The Huskies have won every tournament game by at least 15 points. This included a 82-54 win over Gonzaga who was one of the best offensive teams in the country.
Adama Sanogo is one of the best forwards in the country and has proven it by having two 20-point games in the tournament and two double-doubles. The Huskies also have a pure 3-point shooter in freshman Alex Karaban who shoots 40.6% from beyond the arc.
Their guard duo in Jordan Hawkins and Tristen Newton are the slashers on the team but they can also drain the three.
When looking at UConn’s opponent, Miami is the purest offensive team left. The Hurricanes have scored at least 80 points in their last three games.
Their trio of guards in Isaiah Wong, Jordan Miller and Nijel Pack have all shined at some point in the tournament.
Miami’s offense is another versatile one as it hit 11 threes against Houston but then relied on the two pointer against Texas as they only tallied two from long range.
But the Hurricanes haven’t shown they can win a defensive game since early in the season. They won 63-56 against Drake, but UConn’s offense is much more explosive than Drake’s.
If Miami is able to get past UConn, it may have to face a pure defensive team in San Diego State. The Aztecs have shown they can shut down elite offenses and any team that faces them should prepare for a low-scoring match.
But the last two weekends have proven that anything can happen in this tournament. The Final Four games on Saturday and the National Championship on Monday are shaping up to be an exciting end to March Madness.
Jayson O’Connell is a fourth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.