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NCAA Final Four: odds, streaming, announcers for March 31

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Four teams left. One of them is from the Big East. (And lost to St. John’s.)

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-East Regional-Villanova vs Texas Tech Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Villanova carries the flag for the Big East into the Final Four, and maybe by now, the nation will recognize the Big East as a power.

Or just deride it again while Villanova wins a championship. No big deal. Kansas has defied some expectations and rides a team that is extremely guard-heavy to a shot at the title. Loyola-Chicago rides a dunk-free run against the tall, talented, and defensively effective Michigan squad.

It will be a fun pair of games in what has been one of the most fun tournaments in a while.

(3) Michigan Wolverines vs. (11) Loyola-Chicago Ramblers

Time: 6:09 p.m.

How to watch: TBS | Stream

Announcers: Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery and Tracy Wolfson

Odds: Michigan, -5.5

Going into the Elite Eight, Loyola had won their previous three games by a combined four points. Then they go and beat Kansas State. Talk about blowing the curve. The Ramblers got a huge life from guard Ben Richardson, who finished his Saturday with 23 points (7-10 FG, 6-7 3PT), 6 rebounds, and 4 assists.

It seems like every game, a single Rambler has a great game. Against Kansas State, it was Richardson. Against Nevada it was guard Marques Townes (18 points off 6-10 FG and 2-2 3PT, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists). Against Tennessee it was forward Aundre Jackson (16 points off 5-7 FG and 0-1 3PT, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist), and against Miami it was guard Clayton Custer (14 points off of 5-10 FG and 4-6 3PT, 1 rebound, and 4 assists). While Loyola had a balanced offense all season with five players averaging double-digit points, someone needs to step up against the strong Michigan defense.

Loyola’s second leading scorer this season, guard Donte Ingram, has yet to lead his team in scoring this tournament.

It was Michigan’s defense against Florida State’s high powered offense in a battle of style, and Michigan won that battle. Michigan held Florida State to 54 points off of 16 of 51 shooting from the floor and 4 of 17 from deep. Guard Charles Matthews lead Michigan in scoring with 17 points (6-14 FG, 1-5 3PT) and 8 rebounds. Against the sophisticated offense of Loyola, the Wolverines will again be faced with either forcing their style on Loyola, or winning in a shootout.

(1) Villanova Wildcats vs. (1) Kansas Jayhawks

Time: 8:49 p.m.

How to watch: TBS | Stream

Announcers: Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery and Tracy Wolfson

Odds: Villanova, -5

Villanova has played in four of the least interesting games in this tournament, and I mean that as a compliment. The Wildcats have won by an average of 18.25 points this tournament, and aside from a brief scare against West Virginia, Villanova has looked like the best team. To reiterate what we have heard all season, guard Jalen Brunson (averaging 17.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 4.0 assists this tournament) and guard/forward Mikal Bridges (averaging 16.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, and .5 assists this tournament) are really good.

Additionally, Dobbs Ferry’s own forward Eric Paschall has played his role to near perfection, grabbing a double-double (12 points off 2-7 FD and 0-2 3PT, and 14 rebounds) against Texas Tech. The Big East has seen strong guard play up and down the conference. Kansas starts four guards, so they may not meet up to what Villanova has dealt with all season.

Kansas won over Duke in an overtime showdown that was one of the most entertaining games of the tournament. Guard Malik Newman went off against Duke, scoring 32 points shooting 8 of 19 from the floor and 5 of 12 from three along with 7 rebounds and 2 assists. Newman has averaged 21.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.3 assists thus far in this tournament, and his high level of play will need to continue if Kansas hopes to advance.

Expect a lot of scoring in this game. Villanova is first nationally in points per game (86.6) and Kansas is 29th in the same category (81.4).