With Kansas and MI, 2018 Final Four Tickets Among Highest This Decade

Michigan coach John Beilein right talks with Moritz Wagner left and Isaiah Livers during the first half of the team's NCAA men's college basketball tournament regional final against Florida State on Saturday

Michigan coach John Beilein right talks with Moritz Wagner left and Isaiah Livers during the first half of the team's NCAA men's college basketball tournament regional final against Florida State on Saturday

The Ramblers won their first three games of the Big Dance by a combined four points before routing the ninth-seeded Kansas State Wildcats 78-62 in the South Regional Final as 1.5-point underdogs, covering the spread for the sixth time in a row.

Levine, however, isn't certain he'll be able to go to the national semifinal game Saturday in San Antonio.

An 11-seed playing in the Final Four for only the fourth time in tournament history is just the icing on the cake for this band of hardwood brothers. But whether or not the Ramblers are truly getting an assist from above, they'll face their toughest test in MI, which has been to the Final Four seven times and won once. Yaklich played at Loyola's Missouri Valley Conference rival Illinois State University and was an assistant at Illinois State before joining Michigan's staff this year.

Instead, defense and turnovers dominated the regional final in the first half, which ended with MI up 27-26 despite managing only one field goal and missing four free throws in the final 8½ minutes. They are excellent at squeezing teams to death once they have leads, especially if they can create a snowball effect if they are hitting from three - i.e., the Texas A&M blowout.

MI coach John Beilein, right, celebrates with players, coaches and family after MI defeated Florida State on Saturday in Los Angeles.

Tickets for this year's Final Four are a relative bargain. But oddsmakers aren't so sure the tournament Cinderella has much magic left in it; Bet365 has the Ramblers installed as a +900 longshot to win the championship.

Jordan Poole has played just 12.3 minutes per game this season (ranks eighth on the team), and yet he was somehow able to score that deep shot from a tough angle while guarded - with a flawless swish. Or if N.C. State hadn't had such a huge advantage in free throw attempts - 26-8 - in a game played in North Carolina.

That number probably won't climb much - if at all - against a Wolverines team that was positively awful at getting to the foul line during the season, averaging just 11.5 makes (312th overall) on 17.4 attempts (271st).

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This Tournament has had everything - 16-seed UMBC shocking No. 1 seed Virginia, Nevada's comeback from 22 points down against Cincinnati, great personalities like Nevada coach Eric Musselman's daughter Mariah and Sister Jean. Kansas with 14% and Loyola Chicago with 11% are considered outsiders. It certainly helped propel Villanova, Kansas, Michigan, and Loyola-Chicago all the way to the Final Four. Villanova has the highest-scoring offense (87 points per game) in the nation, but even ranked No. 29, Kansas isn't too far behind, scoring an average of 81 ppg. Villanova (1985, 2016) has won two and Kansas has won (1952, 1988, 2008) three. When Yaklich brought the new defensive focus to the team, Simpson bought in the most, according to Campbell. Three of the four No. 11 seeds that have reached the Final Four have done so since 2006, and none of the previous three have advanced to the title game.

Much of that decline owes to the Sweet 16, which featured nine teams seeded fifth or lower and, according to Sports Media Watch, averaged 10.5 million viewers on TBS and CBS, down 10 percent from a year ago.

It might seem like nitpicking, but the Wildcats have not been great at defending opposing passers. The Wolverines shot 66.2 percent from the line this season.

MI would make a fight of it, but even their chances of overcoming Loyola-Chicago first and Villanova then are rather unlikely, ~25%.

If Jayhawks bettors are looking for reason for optimism, this is the place to start.

The type of team that would hurt them is a pressure team, like a Kentucky, with real great length.

"Our game plan was to not allow easy drive-and kicks because that is what Newman thrives on", Donahue said. Look for the Jayhawks to spread the ball around at will Saturday night.

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