Final Four Teams Share Traits Common to a Champion

loyola

Doug Upstone

Sunday, March 25, 2018 2:58 PM GMT

Sunday, Mar. 25, 2018 2:58 PM GMT

The Final Four is set and we have a little bit of everything -- recent national champions (Kansas, Villanova), a red-hot team from the Big Ten (Michigan) and a Cinderella (Loyola-Chicago) who is tougher than her stepmom and stepdaughters.

College Basketball: Final Four Semifinals

What makes this field really interesting is three of the four teams were regular-season champions and all four won their conference tournaments. In addition, the one element that was questioned all year from some of the more talented teams was their youth, and each club is heading to San Antonio loaded with experience.

The college basketball odds board has Michigan and Villanova as five-point favorites, although that could change by game time. Here is an early look at each contest.

Loyola-Chicago vs. MichiganSaturday, 6:09 p.m. ET; San Antonio, Texas (TV: TBS)

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Athletically, Michigan has the better team, but that is nothing new for Loyola as that is usually the case for them. Coach Porter Moses' team has seen its share of McDonald's All-Americans in this tournament, and about the only thing they would have in common with them is they probably ate at McDonald's.

While we are not quibbling about the actual point spread, these teams are very similar in style of play.

On offense, these teams run excellent half-court offenses. Each uses the high ball screen very well, either looking to have the ball-handler turn the corner for a layup or have screener flash to the basket for a dunk or easy lay-in.

If that does not work, they move the ball around and use dribble action and look weak-side for an open three-point shooter or cutter coming to the basket for a layup. The offensive principles, while different in execution, look to score in the paint and make threes.

On defense, both have aggressive defenders and play excellent help defense.

A quick look at notable sites such as KenPom and the Sagarin Ratings have Michigan favored by seven or eight points, but Loyola is hardly a fluke and deserves a closer look with your NCAAB Picks.

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WEST. REGION. CHAMPS. #GoBlue | #FinalFour pic.twitter.com/D4moIjCypV

— Michigan Men's Basketball (@umichbball) March 25, 2018
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Kansas vs. VillanovaSaturday, 8:49 p.m. ET; San Antonio, Texas (TV: TBS)

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Similar to the first game, Kansas and Villanova have comparable ways they like to play. Both teams prefer the fast-pace game. Each team has a point guard who can control the action. But what makes Kansas' Devonte' Graham and the Wildcats' Jalen Brunson really special is they are more interested in winning than personal accomplishments.

In Sunday's games neither player was having a good game by their high standards, but both were intelligent enough to focus on feeding teammates who were more in the groove and worked in driving to the basket to get to the free-throw line or find open teammates to contribute.

Defensively, both teams are strong on the perimeter and improved as the season went along, which is a reflection of coaches Bill Self and Jay Wright. Who should be bet on with your college basketball picks? We will let you decide as the week progresses and we will offer up our opinions closer to game time.

However, there are elements all four teams will share. They play tremendous defense, they are exquisite in making the extra pass to find the best shot possible, they attack and they never give up -- all the mark of a champion.

Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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