After 64 hard-fought games, the 2024 Men’s Basketball Final Four is set. We’re just three games away from crowning a champion, so let’s take a look at the four teams remaining and how they match up going into this weekend. 


Game 1: #1 Purdue vs. #11 NC State 

The first game of the night features 1-seeded Purdue taking on 11-seeded North Carolina State. 



The Boilermakers had a disappointing NCAA tournament appearance last year, losing in the first round to 16-seeded Fairleigh Dickinson, just the second time a 1 seed has ever lost to a 16 seed. They’ve been the exact opposite in this year’s tournament, dominating Grambling State and Utah State in their first two games, defeating Gonzaga in the Sweet Sixteen, and grinding out a close win against second-seeded Tennessee in the Elite Eight. Purdue has a deep and experienced roster, led by their 7-foot-4 center Zach Edey, who was last year’s National Player of the Year. 


NC State 

The Wolfpack have emerged as a fan favorite with an inspiring story. Before their conference tournament, NC State was seemingly out of the NCAA Tournament with just a 17-14 overall record. Their only route to qualification was to win the ACC tournament, which grants an automatic NCAA Tournament bid to the winning team. In an improbable run, the Wolfpack won 5 in a row, defeating powerhouses like Duke and North Carolina en route to a conference tournament victory. They’ve continued their impressive streak in the NCAA Tournament by beating Texas Tech, Oakland, Marquette, and Duke again, reaching the Final Four on a nine-game winning streak. NC State is led by fan-favorite DJ Burns, a 6-foot-10, 280-pound big man with exceptional skill and footwork. NC State also has elite role players such as DJ Horne, Casey Morsell, and Mohamed Diarra.


The Matchup 

The main matchup here is Zach Edey vs. DJ Burns inside. The offenses for both teams flow through their respective big man, as both are elite scorers who draw double teams on the inside. Both big men have also shown an elite ability to cycle the ball back out to 

the perimeter for spot-up shooters. For Purdue, those players are Fletcher Loyer, Mason Gillis, and Lance Jones. For NC State, those players are DJ Horne and Michael O’Connell. Another notable matchup is the point guards: Braden Smith of Purdue and DJ Horne of NC State. Horne is more of a pure-scoring point guard, while Smith is one of the top passers in the country. Both players will need to step up in this game, as the attention will be on Edey and Burns inside. 


Prediction: Purdue Wins 

It hurts to pick against NC State, but I have to go with my gut. While DJ Burns presents a tough matchup inside size-wise, he lacks some athleticism, which is needed to contest and rattle Zach Edey. NC State will have a tough time scoring in the paint against Edey, a disciplined defender who rarely gets into foul trouble. The only way I see NC State 

winning this game is if they shoot the lights out from three, which they have not done this tournament, shooting around 33.5% from deep. Give me Purdue by 10. 


Game 2: UConn vs. Alabama 

The second game of the night features 1-seeded UConn taking on 4-seeded Alabama. 



UConn is the defending national champion and has shown no signs of slowing down this year. They sit at 35-3 and are the number 1 overall seed in the tournament. The Huskies have been nothing but dominant over the past 2 years, winning their last 10 tournament 

games by double digits. They are led by AP First Team All-American guard Tristen Newton, big man Donovan Clingan, and elite transfer guard Cam Spencer. 



Alabama boasts the number 1 scoring offense in the country, averaging over 90 points per game as a team. They have excelled from 3-point range lately, shooting over 40

percent from deep in 3 of their 4 tournament games. Mark Sears serves as the floor general and leading scorer for the Crimson Tide, averaging 21.5 points and shooting an impressive 43.4% from beyond the arc. Grant Nelson also provides a valuable contribution at forward, offering a significant scoring boost for Alabama. This team truly embodies the modern basketball playstyle: fast-paced, reliant on three-point shooting, and high scoring. 


The Matchup 

This matchup is intriguing because of the unique profile of each team. Alabama is great on offense but struggles on defense, giving up an average of 81.1 points per game this season. Historically, teams like this tend to struggle in the tournament (with the most recent example being Kentucky), but Alabama has surprised everyone by beating strong defensive teams like North Carolina and Clemson. On the other hand, UConn is a well-rounded team, strong both offensively and defensively. One key matchup to watch is between UConn guard Stephon Castle and Alabama guard Mark Sears. Sears is the leading scorer for Bama and is an exceptional shooter, passer, and ball-handler. Castle, a very athletic true freshman guard, is the best perimeter defender for the Huskies. He will be tasked with guarding Sears, hoping to limit his impact from beyond the arc. Another important aspect is figuring out who on Alabama will guard Donovan Clingan, a reliable scorer for UConn, especially when the rest of the team is struggling. Clingan is a big presence at 7 feet 2 inches tall. Alabama’s plan will likely be to limit his impact inside and make other UConn players step up on offense. 


Prediction: UConn Wins 

The only way I see UConn losing this game is if they shoot extremely poorly from outside. UConn shot extremely poorly early in the game against Illinois, but the game was close because the Illini failed to convert on open looks. Unlike Illinois, Alabama will capitalize on open looks. However, Alabama’s poor defense will ultimately be their downfall in this game. As Alabama inevitably experiences a cold shooting spell, UConn will capitalize, pull away, and secure the victory. Give me UConn by 12.