Three teams that need no introduction. One from out of nowhere.
Although the 2018 NCAA tournament produced the biggest upset in the history of the event, along with a seemingly endless string of wild finishes and unexpected results, the “Final Four” will look very much like it has over the last handful of seasons.
In one of this Saturday's semi-finals, it's a barnburner of a matchup between top-seeded programs with rich histories: Villanova vs. Kansas.
In what quickly will become known as the “other” semi-final, it's an upstart vs. another school that knows this road: No. 11 Loyola-Chicago vs. No. 3 Michigan.
Remarkable as Loyola's run—and this tournament—have been, this marks the fifth time over the last six seasons that three teams seeded 1 through 4 have been joined by another seeded 7 or lower.
The four previous times, the underdog has bowed out in the semi-final.
“Why not us?” Ramblers' coach Porter Moser said, repeating his team's oft-used mantra this month—one he hopes can lead to yet another history-making upset.
“You have to have high-character guys that believe to truly do that,” he noted.
The teams will have trouble topping the show Kansas and Duke put yesterday with the last spot in San Antonio up for grabs.
The Jayhawks topped the Blue Devils 85-81 in overtime to send Kansas back to the site of its last national title, in 2008.
The Kansas-Villanova matchup is sure to re-ignite calls for some form of re-seeding heading into the Final Four. The winner between the top seeds will almost certainly be favoured in the final.
This year's most-notable underdog—outside of Maryland-Baltimore County, which beat Virginia in the tournament's first week to pull off the first 16 vs. 1 upset—is Loyola-Chicago.
Urged on by their 98-year-old nun, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, the Ramblers are the fourth 11th seed to make college basketball's final weekend—joining LSU (1986), George Mason (2006), and VCU (2011).