The first half of the Elite Eight round is finished, with the number two seeds beating the number one teams to make it into the Final Four: Villanova over Kansas with some fantastic defense, while Oklahoma let Buddy Hield do most of the offensive work against Oregon.
This is the second Final Four appearance for the Wildcats under Jay Wright, the previous one came in 2009. For Oklahoma, it’s their first Final Four since 2002 and a first for them under Lon Kruger, coaching in Norman since 2010. This puts Oklahoma with Villanova in the semifinal, with both schools playing each other four times in the past, splitting the head to head 2-2. The two teams met in December, with Oklahoma winning 78-55 in the Pearl Harbor Classic.
#2 Villanova 64 #1 Kansas 59: Daniel Ochefu was huge in the paint, but not alone, as Villanova held Kansas to just 10 points from their big men (just four for Perry Ellis) and forced 16 turnovers, including two big steals by Mikal Bridges and Josh Hart in the final minute of the game. Kris Jenkins, Ryan Arcidiacono and Hard each scored 13 points while Ochefu added 10 points and 8 boards. Villanova held Kansas to their lowest scoring total of the season and their second worst offensive performance per efficiency. Bill Self has now lost in the NCAA Tournament five times as the number one seed and for the ninth time as the higher seed, tied for the most in college basketball with Mike Krzyzewski since 2004 when Self took the Jayhawks job. Villanova had just four three pointers to win the game, but were one miss short of perfect from the line, but their defense held Kansas to one of their worst performances of the season, which included 0 points from the bench.
#2 Oklahoma 80 #1 Oregon 68: The Buddy Hield phenomenon keeps wrecking teams standing in his way. Hield scored 37 points with eight three-pointers and was basically half the Oklahoma offense. The Sooners got Dillon Brooks in foul trouble so he was a non factor and except for Elgin Cook (24 points), the Ducks didn’t have a lot to give, as their no-Final Four streak carries on for another year since 1939. Both teams had plenty of offensive rebounds (27 combined) so Oregon didn’t get the advantage there, and by being unable to slow down the hottest player in the nation, they weren’t about to keep up. This is the first time a Final Four team will have someone averaging more than 25 points per game since 1990, and for Lon Kruger, Oklahoma’s head coach, it’ll be a second Final Four appearance.