Here’s a look at Saturday’s NCAA Tournament:
GAME OF DAY
ARKANSAS VS. DUKE
If John Wooden was No. 1, Mike Krzyzewski would surpass John Wooden in Final Four appearances. In the West Region final in San Francisco, Arkansas can be defeated by Duke in 2 seeds. Between 1962-1975, UCLA’s Wizard Of Westwood reached the national semifinals 12 more times.
To reach Coach K’s 13th and final national championship season, Duke will need to be just as aggressive offensively against Texas Tech as it was on Thursday. The Blue Devils’ Jeremy Roach and Paolo Banchero shot 71% from the field during the second half. They also made their final eight shots against one the most formidable defensive teams in the country, a 78 to 73 win.
JD Notae’s defense and Arkansas’s have been great in the tournament. They allowed 62.3 points per match and were one of only four teams that kept Gonzaga below 70 points in a win 74-68.
1994 TITLE GAME REMATCH
Arkansas-Duke will be the first meeting between the teams since 1994, when the Razorbacks defeated the Blue Devils 76 to 72 in the national championship game.
Scott Thurman and Corliss Williamson led the Hogs. Duke was well-known for Grant Hill and Cherokee Parks.
Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell”, a combination of high-tempo offense with lockdown defense, wore down his opponents. The title game was close all the way through and was not decided until Thurman’s tiebreaking 3-pointer just under one minute left.
SIGHTS OF SAN FRANCISCO
Coach Eric Musselman continued his tour of San Francisco with his Arkansas team on Friday. Longtime Bay Area coach Eric Musselman, who also coached the Golden State Warriors as well as the Sacramento Kings, took the Hogs to the San Francisco Giants’ beautiful ballpark by Bay for a quick glance before returning to Duke preparations.
The scoreboard displayed a sign welcoming the Razorbacks as well as congratulating them for their success.
Musselman texted that “Ballpark” was an awesome place to be, before he headed off to Chase Center to practice. The Razorbacks enjoyed a ride in a cable car earlier in the week after visiting Niagara Falls last weekend in Western New York.
Musselman gave out hats of the local professional teams to his players for the flight from Fayetteville, California to San Francisco — Giants and Oakland Athletics, as well as Warriors.
GILLESPIE KNEE OK
After colliding with his left knee in an accident during Thursday’s 63-55 win over Michigan, Collin Gillespie of Villanova says that he is fine to play in Saturday’s South Region final against Houston.
Gillespie injured his left knee meniscus late last season, and needed surgery.
“I trust my surgeon and all that he has done for me. He said that it was stable. It’s one of those things that, if you get hit it feels uncomfortable but I’m fine now. I feel good.”
LOVIN’ LONE STATE STATE
Villanova has enjoyed a good run in the NCAA Tournament thanks to Texas. The Wildcats won their two previous national titles in Texas, 2016 in Houston and 2018.
With the win over Michigan, No. Houston, fifth-seeded Houston will be the matchup for Villanova’s 2nd seed.
The Wildcats may not have fond memories of Texas, however. In December, the Wildcats lost 57 to 36 to Baylor in Waco.
ROAD GAME FOR NOVA
Another huge fan base will be in Houston for the Villanova game. Houston is only three hours from San Antonio. The Cougars faithful have shown up to support the team, including Hakeem Olajuwon, as well as other members of Phi Slama Jama’s early 1980s teams.
Jay Wright, ‘Nova coach, said that they expect a road match. It’s funny because we didn’t think about it until last night, when our game was finished. It hit me. It was like a man saying, “Wow, we’re in it for it!”
“THE DREAM” HAS BEEN SPEAKED
After their 72-60 win over Arizona, Hakeem Olajuwon (known as “The Dream” during Phi Slama Jama), told reporters that he admires the Cougars because they know how to win and be tough.
“It’s always nice to get high praise from one the best players to the game,” Kyler Edwards, Cougars, stated. “Having that praise and his appreciation for how we play the game is great for us.”