HOUSTON — In what has been a 64-team field full of upsets and unlikely teams advancing to this point, the 2016 Final Four is set to one unlikely any other.
Set in a cavernous venue which will stifle outside shooting, NRG Stadium may be the toughest opponent that Syracuse, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Villanova all face down in Space City.
Both national semifinals are rematches from the regular season with Oklahoma downing Villanova and North Carolina sweeping Syracuse during conference play. Now, none of that matters as all four teams in Houston are playing the best basketball, they have all year.
Below are my two predictions for each national semifinal.
(2) Villanova Wildcats vs. (2) Oklahoma Sooners: In a matchup that features the tournament’s hottest shooting team vs. perhaps college basketball’s best individual player, in Sooner guard Buddy Hield, who has averaged 29.2 points in four games. In this game, you have two teams, who in Villanova and Oklahoma who will both look to push the pace and shoot often.
While Oklahoma has Hield, Villanova has a collection of scrappers who embody the blue-collar like attitude and efficiency of their native city. Plus, it is hard to bet against the tournament best shooting team. Prediction: Villanova
(10) Syracuse Orange vs. (1) North Carolina Tarheels: Jim Boeheim vs. Roy Williams, Syracuse’s legendary 2-3 zone, vs UNC’s up-tempo offense. Only one will win, and in this case, while Syracuse pulled off one of the tournament’s biggest upsets, UNC has too much scoring inside-outside firepower in the case of forward Brice Johnson and Marcus Paige to shoot over ‘Cuse’s zone and minimize Malachi Richardson. Prediction: North Carolina