Final Four predictions: Projecting which teams will play for title

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Syracuse and North Carolina set to meet in Final Four

Here's a breakdown of the upcoming Final Four games in Houston on Saturday, April 2:

No. 1 North Carolina (32-6) vs. No. 10 Syracuse (23-13)

Why North Carolina Will Win: There was no tougher team in the Sweet 16 than Notre Dame – at least Irish head coach Mike Brey said so – and North Carolina was tougher both mentally and physically in the win to get to the Final Four. The Tar Heels have the right makeup of talent, size, and passing ability to get around the freakish Orange zone – at least they did in the two wins in the head-to-head matchup. As aggressive as Syracuse has been, and as terrific as it's been on the boards – they outrebounded Virginia – they're not going win this game on the glass. UNC has the ability to slow down and play the half-court game, and they can get on the move. Syracuse has to muck it up, and that won't work.

SEE MORE: Syracuse rides improbable run to Final Four

Why Syracuse Will Win: This isn't the same Syracuse team that had so many problems down the stretch. This team is nailing its free throws. This team is attacking the boards. This team is getting on the move. It's as if it's playing loose, free and fun, and it showed in the phenomenal comeback over Virginia. Can the defense force enough steals and mistakes to translate into easy points? That's how the comeback kicked in to get to the Final Four, and with this defense, and a week to prepare for the Tar Heel backcourt, this could and should look like the fresher team.

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What's Going To Happen: It's over. It's been over. This has been North Carolina's tournament from the start. This has been North Carolina's tournament since the 75-70 win over Syracuse in late February. This is the lone No. 1 seed left for a reason.

Line: North Carolina -9

Final Four Prediction: North Carolina 79, Syracuse 69

No. 2 Oklahoma (29-7) vs. No. 2 Villanova (33-5)

Why Oklahoma Will Win: Get ready for the Buddy love to kick in over the next week. Hield has been the singular star of the tournament, ripping through Oregon for 37 points and taking the game over by himself at times. But it was a team effort to get into the Final Four, doing a great job of moving the ball and overcoming a slew of uncharacteristic mistakes to not let the Ducks get back into the game. Oregon was Oregon with all the pressure and all the attacking on the perimeter, and it didn't matter – the Sooners were too good. Hield was too good. But ...

Why Villanova Will Win: Perry Ellis of Kansas is pretty good, too, and Villanova managed to shut out the Big 12 star in the first half. The attacking Wildcat zone pressured on the perimeter and collapsed all game long, doing exactly what was needed at the right times to get by the rock-solid No. 1 team. Villanova has the firepower from the outside, showed the toughness against the Jayhawks in the interior, and it knows how to stop the three.

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What's Going To Happen: Oklahoma destroyed Villanova 78-55 earlier in the year, but that was back on December 7th in Hawaii. A lot has happened since then – Villanova has gotten a whole bunch better. The defense is playing at a whole other level shutting down Iowa and Miami while keeping Kansas to just 59 points. With a week to prepare for Mr. Hield, the Wildcats will roll on to the national championship.

Line: Villanova -2

Final Four Prediction: Villanova 74, Oklahoma 69

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Final Four predictions: Projecting which teams will play for title
Syracuse's Michael Gbinije (0) goes up for a shot against North Carolina defense during the first half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 2, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Simmons)
Oklahoma forward Khadeem Lattin (12) defends against Villanova guard Mikal Bridges (25) during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Saturday, April 2, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Ryan Arcidiacono goes up for a layup during the first half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game against Oklahoma, Saturday, April 2, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 02: Brice Johnson #11 of the North Carolina Tar Heels defends a shot by Tyler Roberson #21 of the Syracuse Orange in the first half during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at NRG Stadium on April 2, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Chris Steppig - Pool/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 02: Buddy Hield #24 of the Oklahoma Sooners reacts in the second half against the Villanova Wildcats during the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at NRG Stadium on April 2, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 02: Brice Johnson #11 of the North Carolina Tar Heels and Marcus Paige #5 celebrate defeating the Syracuse Orange 83-66 as Tyler Roberson #21 of the Syracuse Orange reacts after the NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at NRG Stadium on April 2, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 27: Malachi Richardson #23 of the Syracuse Orange falls off of the court in the second half against the Virginia Cavaliers during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional Final at United Center on March 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26: The Villanova Wildcats celebrate defeating the Kansas Jayhawks 64-59 during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26: Frank Mason III #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks falls as he drives between Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats and Kris Jenkins #2 in the second half during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 25: Marcus Paige #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrates after a basket in the first half against the Indiana Hoosiers during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament East Regional at Wells Fargo Center on March 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 24: Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils goes up for a shot against Jordan Bell #1 of the Oregon Ducks in the second half in the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at the Honda Center on March 24, 2016 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Notre Dame's Zach Auguste, left, goes up for a shot past North Carolina's Kennedy Meeks during the first half of a regional final men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Sunday, March 27, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Virginia's Isaiah Wilkins (21) attempts to shoot between Syracuse's Tyler Roberson (21) and DaJuan Coleman during the second half of a college basketball game in the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament, Sunday, March 27, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Villanova forward Kris Jenkins (2) celebrates after a regional final men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament against Kansas, Saturday, March 26, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. Villanova won 64-59. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Oregon forward Dwayne Benjamin, left, and forward Elgin Cook react to their loss against Oklahoma during an NCAA college basketball game in the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 26, 2016, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Oregon forward Chris Boucher leaves the court after their loss to Oklahoma during an NCAA college basketball game in the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 26, 2016, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Gonzaga's Eric McClellan (23) and Josh Perkins (13) embrace in the locker room after an NCAA college basketball game in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, Friday, March 25, 2016, in Chicago. Syracuse won 63-60. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Syracuse's Tyler Lydon (20) celebrates with Trevor Cooney (10) after getting fouled in the final seconds of a college basketball game in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, Friday, March 25, 2016, in Chicago. Syracuse won 63-60. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) scores against the Atlanta Hawks in the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 25, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Notre Dame's V.J. Beachem reacts during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Wisconsin in the regional semifinals of the men's NCAA Tournament, Friday, March 25, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Virginia's Anthony Gill (13) dunks during the first half of a college basketball game against Iowa State in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, Friday, March 25, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Maryland guard Melo Trimble (2) passes the ball to a teammate between the defense of Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) and guard Wayne Selden Jr. during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the regional semifinals of the men's NCAA Tournament in Louisville, Ky., Thursday, March 24, 2016. (AP Photo/John Flavell)
Oklahoma forward Dante Buford, left, scores as Texas A&M guard Jalen Jones looks on during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 24, 2016, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler, left, battles Texas A&M center Tonny Trocha-Morelos middle, and Buddy Hield (24) for a rebound during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 24, 2016, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Texas A&M guard Jalen Jones, middle, battles Oklahoma center Jamuni McNeace, left, and guard Jordan Woodard for a rebound during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 24, 2016, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
RALEIGH, NC - MARCH 17: Ben Bentil #0 of the Providence Friars dunks the ball in the first half over Elijah Stewart #30 of the USC Trojans during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at PNC Arena on March 17, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - MARCH 17: Kennedy Meeks #3 of the North Carolina Tar Heels rebounds against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles during the first round of the NCAA Men's Basbetball Tournament at PNC Arena on March 17, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - MARCH 17: Zach Johnson #5 of the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles dives to shoot the ball in the first half against Isaiah Hicks #4 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at PNC Arena on March 17, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Arizona guard Gabe York hides his emotions as a teammate rests his hand on his head in the closing minute against Wichita State during the first round of the NCAA college men's basketball tournament in Providence, R.I., Thursday, March 17, 2016. Wichita State defeated Arizona 65-55. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 17: Roger Woods #0 of the Arkansas Little Rock Trojans and P.J. Thompson #3 of the Purdue Boilermakers fight for a ball during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the Pepsi Center on March 17, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17: Taurean Prince #21 of the Baylor Bears dunks the ball in the first half against the Yale Bulldogs during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell drives past Chattanooga guard Johnathan Burroughs-Cook, right, during the first half of a first-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 17, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Kansas' Perry Ellis (34) dunks as Austin Peay's Jared Savage, right, watches, during a first-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, March 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Kansas forward Jamari Traylor, left, fights for a rebound with Austin Peay center Chris Horton during the first half of a first-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 17, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Yale forward Justin Sears (22) slams a dunk as he gets past Baylor forward Taurean Prince (21) in the second half during the first round of the NCAA college men's basketball tournament in Providence, R.I., Thursday, March 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Butler forward Austin Etherington (0) loses the ball as Texas Tech guard Toddrick Gotcher (20) prepares to pick it up during a first-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, March 17, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Connecticut's Rodney Purvis (44) dunks during a first-round men's college basketball game against Colorado in the NCAA Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, March 17, 2016. Connecticut won 74-67. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes (10) and Xavier's Kaiser Gates (22) chase the ball during the first half of a second-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Sunday, March 20, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Providence guard Kyron Cartwright (24) shoots as North Carolina forward Brice Johnson (11) prepares to make the block during the first half of a second-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
North Carolina forward Brice Johnson (11) reacts after dunking the ball against Providence during the second half of a second-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C. North Carolina won 85-66. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Wichita State's Markis McDuffie (32) and Miami's Davon Reed (5) battle for a loose ball during the second half of a second-round game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Providence, R.I., Saturday, March 19, 2016. Miami won 65-57. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Texas guard Isaiah Taylor (1) reacts as the Northern Iowa team celebrates after guard Paul Jesperson made a last-second half-court shot to win the the first-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma City, Friday, March 18, 2016. Northern Iowa won 75-72. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Saint Joseph's forward DeAndre Bembry, bottom, and Cincinnati forward Octavius Ellis (2) go after the ball during the first half of a first-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Spokane, Wash., Friday, March 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Pittsburgh's Sheldon Jeter, top, grabs a rebound over Wisconsin's Zak Showalter during the second half in a first-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA tournament, Friday, March 18, 2016, in St. Louis. Wisconsin won 47-43. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Michigan State's Bryn Forbes, left, lose control of the ball on his way to the basket as teammate Javon Bess, right, watches and Middle Tennessee's Darnell Harris, center, defends during the second half in a first-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA tournament, Friday, March 18, 2016, in St. Louis. Middle Tennessee won 90-81. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Syracuse's Malachi Richardson (23) is fouled on his way to the basket by Dayton's Dyshawn Pierre as Syracuse's Tyler Roberson (21) and Dayton's Scoochie Smith (11) watch during the second half in a first-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA tournament, Friday, March 18, 2016, in St. Louis. Syracuse won 70-51. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
SPOKANE, WA - MARCH 20: DeAndre Bembry #43 of the Saint Joseph's Hawks goes up with a reverse dunk against hte Oregon Ducks in the first half during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on March 20, 2016 in Spokane, Washington. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Adam Woodbury #34 of the Iowa Hawkeyes goes up against Phil Booth #5 of the Villanova Wildcats in the second half during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 20, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
SPOKANE, WA - MARCH 18: Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins puts up a shot against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena on March 18, 2016 in Spokane, Washington. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IA - MARCH 17: Derek Willis #35 and Skal Labissiere #1 of the Kentucky Wildcats reject a shot by Rayshaun McGrew #11 of the Stony Brook Seawolves in the first half during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena on March 17, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Wisconsin's Bronson Koenig (24) shoots a last second 3-point shot over Xavier's Remy Abell to give Wisconsin a 66-63 victory in a second-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Sunday, March 20, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Notre Dame's Rex Pflueger, center, and Matt Farrell, left, celebrate with teammates after a second-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Sunday, March 20, 2016, in New York. Notre Dame won 76-75. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MARCH 18: Isaiah Taylor #1 of the Texas Longhorns reacts after Paul Jesperson #4 of the Northern Iowa Panthers hit a half court three pointer to win the game with a score of 75 to 72 during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Chesapeake Energy Arena on March 18, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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