Key X-Factors In The 2022 Final Four

The dramatic conclusion to March Madness is the Final Four. This big final weekend is back in New Orleans for the first time since 2012. That year, there was a huge in-state rivalry game between Louisville and Kentucky. This year, there’s a huge in-state rivalry battle between Duke and North Carolina. In 2012, Kansas made the Final Four and reached the national championship game. In 2022, Kansas is in the Final Four and will try to reach another national championship game. Let’s look at the big X-factors in these Saturday semifinal games and the Final Four overall.

Collin Gillespie, Villanova

The elite guard for Villanova has been battling injuries in the 2022 postseason. He made some big plays late in the regional final win over Houston, but his lack of 100-percent health means that we have seen a limited version of Gillespie in recent days. The fact that the Final Four is on a Saturday means that any player who battles an injury in the Elite 8 gets a full week to recover and prepare for the national semifinals. This should give Gillespie a chance to bounce back and play with more strength than if VU had to play a game on Thursday or Friday. With teammate Justin Moore out due to an injury suffered late in the Elite 8 win over Houston, Gillespie becomes that much more central to Villanova’s pursuit of a national championship. If he doesn’t play well, it’s really hard to see VU finding enough offense and producing the right formula against both Kansas and then the Duke-North Carolina winner.

Remy Martin, Kansas  

The people who have followed the Jayhawks all season have consistently said that while Kansas needed its big men to avoid an early-round loss in the NCAA Tournament, Remy Martin needed to be great in order for the Jayhawks to win the national championship. David McCormack has been a very solid big man in March, steering KU through the early rounds of the Big Dance, but Martin’s emergence as a potent new scorer for this team – something he didn’t give this team for most of the regular season – has raised the Jayhawks’ ceiling and transformed this team’s sense of what is possible and achievable in March. If he plays brilliantly, Kansas has a great chance to win it all.

Brady Manek, North Carolina

The transfer from Oklahoma was a relatively limited player with the Sooners, and he struggled for a good portion of this college basketball season. However, he has developed his offensive game beyond 3-point shooting. He has hit big 3-point shots this March, but he has done a lot more at the offensive end of the court, and his defense has improved in recent weeks. If Carolina wants one guy to have a huge game against Duke, it’s Manek.

Jeremy Roach, Duke

Roach has been for Duke what Remy Martin has been for Kansas: a guard who did not have a dynamic or imposing regular season but has become dramatically better in March, just in time for a postseason run. If Remy Martin plays well, Kansas wins. If Jeremy Roach plays well, Duke wins. It sets up a possible national championship game between Duke and Kansas. Whoever plays better – Roach or Martin – likely decides the national title in 2022.


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