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Everything You Need to Know About the 2016 Final Four

After 64 games played in the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, the Final Four is set. Three more games remain. The teams in this year’s National Semifinals is a somewhat surprising collection, considering only one No. 1 seed made it out of its region. Two No. 2 seeds also made it to the Final Four, but the group also includes a No. 10 seed in the Final Four for the first time in tournament history.

Here is what you need to know about the Final Four, in terms of the event itself and the quartet of teams involved in college basketball’s championship showcase.

What

The NCAA Men’s Basketball 2016 Final Four

When

Saturday, April 2, games at 6:09 PM ET and 8:49 PM ET

Where

NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas (the home football stadium of the Houston Texans)

How to Watch

For the third consecutive year, the Final Four will be broadcast on TBS, not on broadcast television. The games will also be streamed through March Madness On Demand (via ncaa.com and cbssports.com), but full access requires a login from a cable provider.

Who is Playing

The four teams competing in this year’s Final Four are Villanova, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Syracuse. Oklahoma and Villanova will play in the first game, while Syracuse and North Carolina are matched up in the nightcap.

Villanova Wildcats

Location: Villanova, Pennsylvania
Mascot: The mascot for the Villanova Wildcats is a feline costume named Will D Cat.

NEW YORK - MARCH 12:  The Villanova Wildcats mascot celebrates after defeating the Marquette Golden Eagles during the second round of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2009 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

NEW YORK – MARCH 12: The Villanova Wildcats mascot celebrates after defeating the Marquette Golden Eagles during the second round of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)

Path to the Final Four

Villanova (33-5)
#2 Seed in South Region
Def. #15 UNCA 86-56
Def. #7 Iowa 87-68
Def. #3 Miami (Fl) 92-69
Def. #1 Kansas 64-59

Villanova, contrary to what many were expecting, did not struggle in the first few rounds against competition it was expected to beat. UNC-Asheville was summarily dismissed and neither Iowa nor Miami (Fla.) was given a chance to make a game of it. It took a full team performance, but Villanova showed why it was the top team in the country late in the season when the Wildcats led most of the game en route to taking out Kansas, who had been favored to win the tournament since Selection Sunday.

Final Four History: The Wildcats have reached four Final Fours prior to this year, including the inaugural Final Four back in 1939. They have won one National Championship (1971).

Kenpom Rating:

Overall: 1

Offensive Efficiency: 4

Defensive Efficiency: 7

Other Facts to Know:
Villanova, along with Virginia, is one of only two teams in this entire tournament (not just the Final Four) to rank in the Top 10 in Kenpom in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Kansas may have been the top overall seed, but Villanova brought the best balanced attack into this tournament and the Wildcats have proven it thus far.

It is coach Jay Wright’s 15th season. While he has brought unprecedented sustained respect and credibility to the Villanova program, this is only his second Final Four. He has earned a reputation as someone who can’t quite get it done in March; this would be an excellent opportunity to quell those rumblings.

Oklahoma Sooners

Location: Norman, Oklahoma
Mascot: The mascots for the Oklahoma Sooners are two Welsh Pony costumes named Boomer and Sooner.

oklahoma_sooner

Path to the Final Four:

Oklahoma (29-7)
#2 Seed in West Region
Def. #15 USCB 82-68
Def. #10 VCU 85-51
Def. #3 Texas A&M 77-63
Def. #1 Oregon 80-68

The Sooners struggled early in this tournament, falling behind against Cal-State Bakersfield at the same time that Michigan State was trailing against MTSU. Oklahoma also survived a scare from VCU in the second round when Hield took over the game and showed why he is one of the best players in college basketball. Oklahoma is far more battle-tested in this tournament than Villanova, which is sometimes a positive but often times can show hints of weaknesses that superior opponents exploit. The Sooners certainly picked things up on the second weekend, though, showing that they can also be dominant against elite competition.

Final Four History: The Sooners have reached the Final Four four times prior to this season, including in the inaugural NCAA tournament in 1939. They have won two National Championships (1947 and 1988).

Kenpom Rating:

Overall: 5

Offensive Efficiency: 13

Defensive Efficiency: 13

Other Facts to Know:

Oklahoma held the No. 1 spot in the AP Poll for three weeks this season, a position it relinquished to Villanova after a loss to Kansas State in early February. Oklahoma is led by Senior guard Buddy Hield, one of four finalists for this year’s Naismith Trophy. Coach Lon Kruger is in his fifth year at Oklahoma. This is his first Final Four with the Sooners and second in his career. He has never won a National Championship.

North Carolina Tar Heels

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Mascot: The mascot for the North Carolina Tar Heels is a ram costume named Rameses.

DETROIT - APRIL 04:  The North Carolina Tar Heels mascot performs before the game against the Villanova Wildcats during the National Semifinal game of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at Ford Field on April 4, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

DETROIT – APRIL 04: The North Carolina Tar Heels mascot performs before the game against the Villanova Wildcats during the National Semifinal game of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship at Ford Field on April 4, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Path to the Final Four

North Carolina (32-6)
#1 Seed in East Region
Def. #16 FCGU 83-67
Def. #9 Providence 85-66
Def. #5 Indiana 101-86
Def. #6 Notre Dame 88-74

North Carolina has not struggled in this tournament, but it has been challenged. The Tar Heels have faced good and inspired competition all the way through this tournament, but have suffered no real scares in getting past their opponents. There seemed to be a little bit of rust in only leading FGCU by one at halftime of the opening game, but a 25-6 run to start the second half ended any scare and North Carolina hasn’t been in danger since.

Final Four History: The Tar Heels have reached 18 Final Fours prior to this year. They have won five NCAA Tournament championships (1957, 1982, 1993, 2005, 2009) as well as being selected as champion by multiple selectors in 1924, before a tournament has held to determine the basketball championship.

Kenpom Rating:

Overall: 3

Offensive Efficiency: 1

Defensive Efficiency: 21

Other Facts to Know:

North Carolina is the top-ranked team in offensive efficiency according to Kenpom. The Tar Heels have won five NCAA basketball tournaments, more than all three other Final Four teams have combined. With their win on Sunday, the Tar Heels snapped a six-year Final Four drought, their longest span without a Final Four Appearance since 1991. This is coach Roy Williams’ eighth Final Four, which moved him into sole position of fourth place on the all-time Final Four list and second among active coaches (behind Mike Kryzewski’s 12).

Syracuse Orange

Location: Syracuse, New York
Mascot: The mascot for the Syracuse Orange is an orange costume (the fruit) named Otto the Orange.

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14:  Otto, the mascot for the Syracuse Orange performs against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the quaterfinals of the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 14, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 14: Otto, the mascot for the Syracuse Orange performs against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the quaterfinals of the Big East Men’s Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 14, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Path to the Final Four

Syracuse (23-13)
#10 Seed in Midwest Region
Def. #7 Dayton 70-51
Def. #15 MTSU 75-50
Def. #11 Gonzaga 63-60
Def. #1 Virginia 68-62

Syracuse spent Selection Sunday sweating, unsure if the Orange would even be selected for the tournament. A favorable first-round matchup against free-falling Dayton looked like a good chance to get a win before losing to Michigan State, one of the pre-tournament favorites. Some upsets along the path helped the Orange, though, as they did not face a seed higher than themselves in the second round or the Sweet 16. Defeating Virginia in the Elite 8 was a tough ask, though, and Syracuse played probably its best team game of the season to pull off the upset and earn a trip to Houston.

Final Four History: The Orange have reached five Final Fours prior to this year. The Orange have won the NCAA tournament once (2003) and have twice been selected as champions in the pre-tournament era (1918 and 1926).

Kenpom Rating:

Overall: 22

Offensive Efficiency: 51

Defensive Efficiency: 16

Other Facts to Know:

Syracuse is the fourth double-digit seed in history to reach the Final Four (1986 LSU, 2006 George Mason, 2011 VCU) and the first #10-seed to do so. It is the school’s second Final Four since changing its nickname from the Orangemen to the Orange back in 2004 (the school reached four Final Fours as the Orangemen). The Orange met North Carolina twice during the regular season and lost both meetings, though both games were (relatively) close throughout. Jim Boeheim, who has announced that he will retire after the 2017-18 season, is the longest-tenured active coach in major college basketball.

About Yesh Ginsburg

Yesh has been a fan and student of college football since before he can remember. He spent years mastering the intricacies of the BCS and now keeps an eye on the national picture as teams jockey for College Football Playoff positioning.

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