Final Four

NCAA Tournament: Preview of the Final Four Teams

NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas is the site for this year’s Men’s Final Four as the stretch run of the NCAA Tournament continues this weekend. The first game on Saturday will be nine-seed Florida Atlantic taking on five-seed San Diego State, with the second game being five-seed Miami going up against four-seed UCONN. These are two matchups that no one saw coming, with Florida Atlantic, San Diego State, and Miami making their first Final Four in program history. It’s been an unforgettable NCAA Tournament to this point and more history will be made in the coming days.

NCAA Tournament: Preview of the Final Four Teams

Florida Atlantic (9 Seed)

Out of the Final Four teams, nine-seeded Florida Atlantic is by far the most surprising to be left standing. In fact, they weren’t even expected to make it out of the first round but here we are. They went through eight-seed Memphis in the Round of 64, sixteen-seed Fairleigh Dickinson in the Round of 32, four-seed Tennessee in the Sweet 16, and their latest victory against three-seed Kansas State in the Elite Eight. These weren’t cakewalk wins, they were against pretty tough opponents, and that includes Fairleigh Dickinson who knocked off the one-seed Purdue.

Florida Atlantic has had a handful of great performances throughout this tournament but Johnell Davis has probably been the best of them all. He’s had a 12-point performance, a 13-point performance, a 15-point performance, and above all a masterful 29-point performance against Fairleigh Dickinson that also saw him gather 12 rebounds with five assists and five steals. The Owls also got great games from the likes of Alijah Martin and Bryan Greenlee leading up to the Final Four.

This team has good depth and can put on pressure on both sides of the court. If Florida Atlantic can push its own pace, they have a real chance to be the first-ever nine-seed or worse to advance to the National Championship Game.

San Diego State (5 Seed)

In 2020, we saw a 30-2 San Diego State team and a likely number two seed get their unbelievable season cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Fast forward three years later and the Aztecs have a chance to do what they didn’t get a chance to do in 2020 and that’s fight for a National Championship.

They are a game away from reaching the big game after defeating the likes the Charleston, Furman, Alabama, and Creighton to get to the Final Four. San Diego State has a few options to lean on, one of them being Darrion Trammell. He not only is probably their best player on the court but he’s come up big when needed, including scoring 21 huge points against Alabama to go along with five rebounds and two steals. Along with Trammell, San Diego State can look to Lamont Butler, who put together a couple of huge games in this tournament. Both of them together carried this team to a one-point win over Creighton in the Elite Eight.

San Diego State came into the NCAA Tournament with a distinct identity, defense. They’re not only great of that side of the ball but they’re elite and they’ve shown it. The Aztecs have held their opponents to average just 56.6 points per game since postseason play, including the Mountain West Tournament. A huge reason for this is their three-point defense, holding their four opponents in this tournament to just 17 percent shooting from behind the arc, and that’s with the opponents known for either shooting a lot of threes or making a lot of threes. The saying “defense wins championships” might very well still be a thing if San Diego State can keep up the stellar play.

Miami (5 Seed)

Out of the teams in the Final Four field, Miami has had the toughest test to get to this point. They beat 12-seed Drake in the first round, who many possibly saw as an upset, then four-seed Indiana, number one seed Houston, and number two Texas. Miami has had impressive performances out of many of their players throughout the NCAA Tournament. You can try to pick out their best player, but every game there’s a new contender for that honor.

Jordan Miller had by far the most impressive performance across the four games for Miami, scoring 27 points on 7 for 7 shooting and an impressive 13 for 13 at the free-throw line in the Elite Eight against Texas. He also scored 19 points in the round of 32 against Indiana. Miller wasn’t the only one putting up impressive numbers as throughout this tournament, Isiaah Wong also put up a 27-point performance in the Sweet 16 vs Indiana and also had a 20-point performance in the Elite Eight against Houston. His 20-point performance also was accompanied by a 26-point performance from Nijel Pack in the same game.

That’s not all, as the Hurricanes also have Wooga Poplar and Norchard Omier that are capable of taking over a game. This offense has been lethal and has shown why it’s been one of the best in the country, scoring 85 or more points over the last three games. The defensive end might be a liability and where they struggle the most, but their impressive offensive attack alone might be good enough to mask it the rest of the way. Miami will have another tough test in four-seed UCONN before they can think about a National Championship.

UCONN (4 Seed)

UCONN had dominated every team that has stepped in their way through the first four games, beating Iona, St. Mary’s, Arkansas, and Gonzaga by an average of 22.5 points per game. A big reason for that is Adama Sanogo, who has been the best player on the court for the Huskies. He’s scored 28 points, 24 points, 18 points, and 10 points in the four games played in this tournament. That combined for 80 points, the most of any player in the Final Four, while also shooting 66% from the field. Not only can he score but he makes an impact on the boards, averaging almost 10 rebounds a game.

There’s also Jordan Hawkins, who had a 24-point game and a 20-point game against Arkansas and Gonzaga. UCONN has the ability up and down this lineup and all around the court from playmaking, rebounding, defense, and more that makes this team the most complete of the Final Four teams. UCONN is by far the most experienced team left, making the Final Four for the sixth time in school history and winning four National Championships while the three other schools have never been to the Final Four before this year. They are the favorites to cut down the nets for the fifth time in program history but it will not be easy against Miami on Saturday.

Main Image- Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

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