Final Four Power Ranking

The arrival of the Final Four means the end stage of March Madness. Let’s compare the four teams which have earned their way to New Orleans, seeing how they stack up altogether, not just in the two national semifinals which are set for Saturday.

1. Duke Blue Devils

The stage is set for Duke to give Mike Krzyzewski a sixth national championship. This isn’t an evaluation made based on a desire to see the storybook ending or a legendary achievement by one of the greatest coaches ever. If Duke is No. 1 in the power rankings, it’s for a specific reason: This team has managed to play better defense than it did in late February and early March. Duke was sloppy and unfocused for a good portion of the season. It finished first in the ACC standings, but the ACC didn’t have a strong regular season. The conference has had a great March Madness, with its teams raising their level of play in the postseason. Duke has been part of that story, and since Duke has the most natural talent of any ACC team, the Blue Devils’ evolution has given them a higher ceiling than North Carolina or any other team left in the Final Four. The big key for Duke is that guard Jeremy Roach has really come alive in this tournament. He has become the much-improved player Duke was always going to need to win the national title. It’s less about Roach himself, more about someone other than Paolo Banchero and Mark Williams becoming a third primary player on this team to give Coach K more options. If Roach continues to play great, it’s clear Duke has the best team in the field. If Roach regresses or is contained by opponents, Duke becomes a lot more beatable again.

2. Villanova Wildcats

The response to this will naturally be, “Wait a minute – Justin Moore is out. Doesn’t this mean Kansas should be ranked higher, especially since the Jayhawks are the only No. 1 seed in this Final Four?” It’s a fair question. Villanova is still better than Kansas because of the attention to detail it brings to the court on defense. Villanova can defend better than Kansas and is every bit as tough as Kansas is. Even without Justin Moore, the Wildcats can create an ugly game, the kind of game they are well-positioned to win. They can keep a game close with their defense even when they are not making shots. Villanova is the best defensive team left in the Final Four. The Moore injury doesn’t put VU behind Kansas, but it does put the Wildcats behind Duke.

3. Kansas Jayhawks

The Jayhawks are not an overwhelmingly talented team. They are deep and balanced, and they might beat Villanova because VU lacks Justin Moore. One of the big reasons Kansas has made the Final Four is that Remy Martin, a guard who had struggled for much of the season, raised his game in the postseason, a lot like Jeremy Roach of Duke. If Martin plays at a high level, Kansas can come very close to Duke as the best team here. The question is if Martin can thrive against the defenses gathered in New Orleans for the Final Four.

4. North Carolina Tar Heels

The Tar Heels are a No. 8 seed. They don’t have as much depth or quality as the other three teams in New Orleans. Yet, they have every chance to win it all. Some Final Fours have a No. 4 team which has little to no chance to win it all. This is not one of those Final Fours. UNC can certainly beat any team in New Orleans. The Tar Heels beat Baylor, the 2021 national champion, in this tournament, and they beat UCLA, a 2021 Final Four team, as well. They have a high ceiling. Their floor, however, is not as high as the other three teams in the Superdome.


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