From the initial 64 teams in contention, the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship dubbed "March Madness" is down to its Final Four.
Like its local version, the American collegiate basketball tournament is easily one of sporting world's highly anticipated affairs, being the perfect venue for players to leave a lasting legacy and evolve into something bigger, especially if they're keen on taking their career to the next level (NBA).
This year will be no different; after a wild month of highlights and upsets, the top four teams will be gutting it out over the weekend while surrounded by a sea of impassioned fans, a la San Beda vs. Letran or Ateneo vs. La Salle sold-out crowds.
So the the clueless and curious can brush up on this upcoming basketball main event, we cooked up a brief primer on the remaining suspects.
Villanova Wildcats vs. Oklahoma Sooners
A superstar-less team (Wildcats) faces off with the most dangerous scorer in recent NCAA memory, the Sooners' Buddy Hield. Their first meeting proved to be a walk in the park for Oklahoma, shooting down Villanova from behind the arc (14 threes in the game), 78-55. Expect the latter to cordon off the three-point line, led by their best player and defender, last season's Big East Sixth Man of the Year, Josh Hart. Shutting down the 22nd best offense (81.0 PPG) is priority for the Top 15 defense in the nation (63.6 OPP PPG).
Ranking: No. 2, South
Look out for: #3, Josh Hart (15.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg)
Ranking: No. 2, West
Look out for: #24, Buddy Hield (25.4 ppg, 46.5% 3PT, 5.7 rpg)
North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Syracuse Orange
It's the big boys versus the comeback kids in the all-ACC right side of the bracket. Heavy favorites North Carolina took both regular season meetings by dismantling the vaunted Syracuse zone, but the former must do better than the combined 16-point advantage in the first two games against the Orange, for no lead is safe against the tournament's dark horse. Just ask Rank 11 Gonzaga (up by nine at one point during their Sweet Sixteen matchup) and No. 1 seed Virginia (up by 16, Elite Eight)...
Ranking: No. 1, East
Look out for: #11, Brice Johnson (17.1 ppg, 61.6% FG, 10.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg)
Ranking: No. 10, Midwest
Look out for: #0, Michael Gbinije (17.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.4 apg, 2 spg)
The two prevailing teams will be one step away from bringing home the hardware and the chance to produce moments like these...
Good luck, guys!
March Madness will air live on Solar Sports at 8:30 a.m. and via satellite on Basketball TV at 10:30 a.m. Basketball TV is seen on SkyCable (Ch.33) and Cignal (Ch. 54). Solar Sports is seen on SkyCable (Ch.70), Destiny (Ch.35), and Cablelink (Ch.58).