Final Four: Key stat for Duke, UNC, Villanova, Kansas

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Final Four in numbers

Finally, the Final Four has arrived. All week, we’ve digested the endless angles of a delicious Duke-UNC game, enjoyed the extinguished Kansas performance that has the Jayhawks as the last standing No. 1 seed, and played with Villanova’s roster to see how the Wildcats can fill the void of Justin Moore’s absence.

But before the weekend kicks off in New Orleans, we’re offering one final dose of preview notes by looking at one key stat for each team heading into the Final Four.

duke: Only 6.3% of Blue Devils giveaways this season have been stealless turnovers (according to KenPom), which limits dangerous errors and opportunities for opponents to run. In Duke’s last two wins, Texas Tech has had 10 quick break points and Arkansas just three. The Blue Devils have matured into a team that can better dictate the tempo at the right time, and will have to slow down a UNC team that snagged 94 points from them last month.

North CarolinaMarksmanship graduate Brady Manek had 16 threes in four tournament games, providing a reliable source of offense and opening the field for his teammates. In UNC’s two previous meetings with Duke, Manek turned it on for 11 treys combined. In a team full of incessant goalscorers, his shooting is the most crucial element and has been the hardest to stop.

Kansas: Say what you want about Remy Martin’s shot selection, but to his credit, he’s only committed five turnovers in four NCAA Tournament games. Kansas doesn’t have anyone else who can consistently create their own shot, so when he makes jumpers — and lately he has been — Martin gives the Jayhawks a critical spark. He’s matured as a player this month, and whether or not he can maintain those habits can make a difference.

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Villanova: The Wildcats were dealt a blow when Moore tore his Achilles tendon in the Elite Eight, forcing them to struggle without a player who saw the ground in 83.8% of their minutes. Sixth man Caleb Daniels will likely be called into action, but no other bench player has logged more than five minutes in Villanova’s last three games. The two replacement options: oft-injured guard Bryan Antoine (a former five-star rookie) and Chris Arcidiacono (whose brother, Ryan, was a March hero in 2016).

ICYMI…

• Every part of the game goes through Aliyah Boston, and that was evident as ever in South Carolina’s Final Four win over Louisville, writes Emma Baccellieri.

• Jay Wright and Villanova continually produce “carbon copy” endpapers. Greg Bishop explores how a program culture is passed down from generation to generation in this position.

• Duke and UNC have never met in the NCAA Tournament, but it almost happened in 1991. Pat Forde the night a Kansas team coached by Roy Williams beat a Tar Heels team coached by Hubert Davis in the Final Four.

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From the safe

On this day in 1995, UConn won its first title and finished the first undefeated season in women’s hoop in nearly a decade. And who was in charge of all this? Geno Auriemma, of course. “There was a charming, novel flavor to UConn’s championship celebration,” SI’s Austin Murphy wrote at the time. “Unsure of the etiquette of cutting the nets, the Huskies rushed around the ladder. One asked [Chris] Dailey, the assistant coach, ‘What do we do?’ Well, 11 national championships later, Auriemma has apparently perfected the art of cutting the nets. He will look to win a 12th title on Sunday when his UConn team takes on Dawn Staley and South Carolina.

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