If Saturday’s Elite Eight games featured newcomers, Sunday’s feature some of the bluest of college basketball blue bloods. Villanova, which will tip off in Sunday’s first game, claimed the 2016 national championship. Duke, which will play in Sunday’s second game, won the title the year before. Kansas, which will face Duke, was in the national title game in 2012, and also won the 2008 title. Together, those three programs have made 10 Final Four appearances this century.
Sunday’s final participant, Texas Tech, belongs squarely in the upstart category: The Red Raiders are the only remaining team that has never played in the Elite Eight. Will they be able to upset Villanova? Or will we see two blue bloods joining Michigan and this year’s Cinderella, Loyola Chicago, in the Final Four?
If you ask Texas Tech Coach Chris Beard about basketball, you might get an answer about Whataburger. Meanwhile, in its hard-fought comeback victory against West Virginia on Friday night, Villanova showed that it can take a punch, writes John Feinstein.
Duke vs. Kansas features two college hoops powerhouses that possess two very different Elite Eight histories.
Sunday’s games (All times Eastern):
- 2:20 p.m. No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 3 Texas Tech (CBS)
- 5:05 p.m. No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 2 Duke (CBS)
- No. 1 Kansas 80, No. 5 Clemson 76
- No. 1 Villanova 90, No. 5 West Virginia 78
- No. 2 Duke 69, No. 11 Syracuse 65
- No. 3 Texas Tech 78, No. 2 Purdue 65
- No. 11 Loyola Chicago 69, No. 7 Nevada 68
- No. 3 Michigan 99, No. 7 Texas A&M 72
- No. 9 Kansas State 61, No. 5 Kentucky 58
- No. 9 Florida State 75, No. 4 Gonzaga 60
— Many of the tournament’s biggest stars exited last weekend, including Oklahoma’s Trae Young, Texas’s Mohamed Bamba, Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr., Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr. and Alabama’s Collin Sexton. That exodus sets up a strange Elite Eight, especially for curious NBA fans. Duke’s Marvin Bagley III is perhaps the last elite NBA prospect remaining, and gets a chance on college basketball’s brightest stage to prove why he should viewed as be the top player in the draft.
— Without star players, there will be intense focus on the remaining coaches, who include some of the sport’s biggest names: Jay Wright, Bill Self, John Beilein, and, of course, Mike Krzyzewski. And as John Feinstein observed last week, Coach K is in his 43rd season, but he shows no signs of slowing down.
— Loyola is probably the unlikeliest of the Elite Eight teams, where the announced home attendances this year included 1,135, 1,289, 1,133, 1,904, 1,914 and 1,501. The Post’s Chuck Culpepper will take you on a lovely tour of the school’s Chicago campus, a place sports-unaddicted enough that student upon student will tell you they never even heard of Loyola’s 1963 basketball national title. Sister Jean, the team’s 98-year old chaplain and one of the tournament’s enduring stars, continues to steal the show. And with an uber-efficient offense, the Ramblers don’t need divine intervention to reach the Final Four.
— Loyola also has plenty of Rick Majerus’s influence embedded in its style; the Rambers’ coach, Porter Moser, considers his former mentor a bona fide “genius” at basketball strategy.
— Wondering what’s most likely to happen next? The Post’s Neil Greenberg continues to update his live tournament odds, which now reveal that Villanova (30 percent), Duke (27 percent) and Michigan (23 percent) have the best chances of winning the national championship.