March Madness is coming to an end. This high-stakes NCAA tournament has been filled with fierce rivalries and plenty of upsets. Take Saint Peter’s, for example–the first No. 15 seed in tournament history to advance to the Elite Eight.
But it’s not over yet. This Saturday, the Final Four will battle it out before two victors advance to the championship game. Villanova and Kansas will go head-to-head while UNC and Duke–one of the closest (literally) and most intense matchups–will duel it out on the court two hours later.
Predicting a winner is no easy feat though. That’s why today’s blog will explore the competitive advantages of each team and leverage our March Madness battlecards to predict a winner for each game.
Villanova vs. Kansas
This battle is sure to be interesting. Not only do these teams have two of the most consistent college basketball programs out there, but their track records in the tournament are strong. Momentum has been building and each team wants a historic win. Villanova is aiming for their third national championship win in the past six tournaments while Kansas must uphold their position of winning the most Division I basketball games in college history–2,355, to be exact.
Villanova is well-rounded with good defense and strong shooters. During this tournament, they’ve hit 90% of their free throws. They’ve also got a secret weapon (point guard), Collin Gillespie. Collin was named the 2022 Big East Player in both 2021 and 2022–the first player in Villanova history to earn this accolade more than once in a college career.
Kansas, on the other hand, has the experience and defensive lineup to shut down Collin. They also have veteran (and NBA draft prospect), Ochai Agbaji, on their side. Ochai was crowned the Big 12 Player of the Year and continues to be a high-flying finisher for the team. Kansas also has Remy Martin who was named the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year in the fall. While injury held Remy back for a chunk of the season, he’s more motivated than ever to put up points.
Villanova is slow-paced. They play a half-court game, focusing on outside shooting and ball movement. While one could argue this is a strength, it may prove to be a challenge with a fast-paced team like Kansas.
Shooting outside the paint is not a huge strength of Kansas. Against Providence, they only shot 39%. Although they’re quick, there’s a chance they could struggle getting high numbers on the board.
One of the biggest landmines for Villanova is the fact they could be outhustled by Kansas. They’ve also got some key players out and battling injuries like Justin Moore.
Kansas, on the other hand, could put themselves at a disadvantage if they don’t hit their shots–especially from the free-throw line. They also run the risk of tiring themselves out in the first half with their fast tempo.
How we win
If Villanova wants to win, they’ve got to buckle down on getting points on the board… as fast as possible. They’ve got the impressive three-pointer track record and must take advantage of that–all while forcing turnovers from Kansas to stay in control.
To win, Kansas must block Villanova’s shots and play a good defensive game (they’ve got strong defense on their side). They also must force Villanova to shoot in the paint to avoid a quick three-pointer lead.
North Carolina (UNC) vs. Duke
This matchup will have every North Carolina resident on the edge of their seat. These rivals are located less than 20 minutes from each other. It’s their first-ever face-off in a Final Four game, and we know that these teams are fired up–especially the coaches. It is the final year for Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and he’s on a quest to win his sixth national championship. UNC’s coach, Hubert Davis, is ready to win his first title in his first year on the job.
North Carolina knows how to rebound and that’s a place they can dominate–their offensive rebound rate is over 30%. The team has great momentum too, especially after securing the win against Saint Peter’s by 20 points. They also have two key players leading their team: Armando Bacot–the East Region’s Most Outstanding Player–who over the last two games, scored 34 points and had 37 rebounds. RJ Davis is a strong player as well as he's been shooting 38.3% from the three-point range.
Jumping over to Duke, there’s no denying the team’s strong offense and program. Players are tough to guard and the team is ranked in the top 10 for offense. They also have the experience of Coach K on their side–he’s been here before, knows what it takes to win, and will give them that extra motivation to rise victorious as this is his final season. Duke also has Wendell Moore Jr.–a steady and consistent player who has scored double figures in each game this tournament–and Paolo Banchero, an All-American (during the regular season) and one of college basketball’s strongest players. There’s talk that Paolo will be given the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award.
UNC might be in trouble when it comes to defending Duke. UNC had a favorable draw in this tournament with Marquette and Baylor, and while the team’s defense has been improving, Duke is a tough team. UNC also lacks depth (especially on the frontline) and the experts say they have the lowest chance of winning overall.
While Duke has always been known for its program, the team has been slowly losing its “powerhouse reputation” (but, they just averaged 79.8 points over their first four contests in this tournament). The team is also younger and less experienced (they’re lucky Coach K can even that out), and they haven’t been battle-tested yet.
If Duke gets to the foul line frequently, it won’t be good for UNC as Duke has made 50+% or more of its shots in 18 games this year. UNC also must keep an eye out for Duke forcing fouls.
Duke must shut UNC down from the get-go as they’ve been improving week after week–they’ll want to keep that momentum going. Duke also has a lot riding on the performance of center, Mark Williams. If he gets injured, it could be costly.
How we win
To win, UNC must come out strong and on top of their rebounding game. They also must limit fouls so that Duke doesn’t have any free shots.
On the other hand, Duke needs to have good defense, not allowing three-point shots to come through. They’ve also got to play to one of their strengths, free throws, and keep the ball moving.
Duke Blue Devils
Start winning with competitive battlecards
Competition is intensifying with 59% of CI practitioners saying their markets have gotten much more competitive. Rivalries are brewing over in the basketball world, too. For one winner to emerge in either situation, preparation is key.
When basketball players go into a game, they have plays ready to go. When your salespeople go into competitive calls, do they have updated battlecards on hand? If not, they’re put at a serious disadvantage and don’t have the competitive edge they need.
Whether you’re building out battlecards for the first time or looking to grow your sales enablement program, check out our Guide to Competitive Battlecards to ensure yours are top-notch.
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