VILLANOVA WILDCATS G
With Justin Moore's Achilles tear confirmed, Gillespie's going to need to be superhero-level good if 'Nova is going to have any shot at taking down Kansas. Thus far in the tourney he's just been good, not great, averaging 13 points and three assists per game while taking a backseat to fellow senior Jermaine Samuels. Gillespie's got the scoring punch to be a difference-maker if necessary, and he's still a near-perfect combo of production + savvy who could tilt a matchup one way or another.
KANSAS JAYHAWKS G
The rebounding tenacity of both Braun and KU teammate Jalen Wilson is what has allowed the Jayhawks to not only survive, but thrive while playing smaller lineups. Braun grabbing and going in transition is a huge part of KU's offense. So, too, is his outside shooting; he's made only six 3s this tournament but is routinely relied upon as the team's best shooting threat.
Leaky Black (North Carolina) vs. Christian Braun (Kansas)
Black is like UNC's version of Harris in that he doesn't score a ton but has cemented a role because of his success with the intangibles. He is the Tar Heels' best perimeter defender, which certainly counts for something, and you can always count on him for the hustle plays. But Braun showed with a couple of dagger 3-pointers in the final minutes against Villanova that he's got the swagger and offensive game to be a key factor on a championship stage. So while Black is a solid role player, Braun is an elite role player with the offensive game to be a difference-maker. Braun could become a superstar next season after Agbaji leaves for the NBA, and we may get a preview on Monday. Edge: Kansas
Brady Manek (North Carolina) vs. Jalen Wilson (Kansas)
These players bring vastly different strengths to the table, which makes the matchup a wash. Manek has taken his assassin-like 3-point shooting skill as a stretch power forward to the next level during the NCAA Tournament. He makes heavily contested looks from the corner look like layups. So in terms of outside shooting, he's got the edge on Wilson. But Wilson's versatility and comfort running the floor make up for the perimeter shooting deficiency. Wilson is also enough of an outside threat to keep UNC's defense from sagging, and he's got the chops to beat opponents off the dribble. His overall versatility, especially on defense, stand out. Edge: Even
Remy Martin and Mitch Lightfoot (Kansas) vs. Puff Johnson and Dontrez Styles (UNC)
UNC's starters are referred to as the "iron five" for a reason. The reason is because the Tar Heels don't go deep into their bench. With 6-11 sophomore forward Dawson Garcia away from the team because of family medical concerns, the Tar Heels are particularly lean in the post behind Bacot. Kansas, by contrast, brings one of its best players off the bench in graduate transfer guard Remy Martin. The former Arizona State star played a limited role for KU during the Big 12 slate but is an elite shot-creator and offensive spark for the Jayhawks. With veteran big man Mitch Lightfoot also available to come in and give McCormack a breather under the basket, the Jayhawks have a nice depth advantage in this matchup. Kansas coach Bill Self can go up to 10 deep if he wants. Edge: Kansas
Yes sir Bucky!
And post game on the set Charles Barkley just called "Christian Braun was the Best Player on the floor" ; "he kept them in the game when early 2nd half" making that 31 -10 run
Braun 12 pts / 12 rebs
Manek finished 13 pts 13 rebs 4 blocked shots ( two on Braun)...vicious unintentional elbow he took to the forehead early in the game
Off the bench Lightfoot had nice sky hook (only bucket); got in foul trouble
Game lived up to the up; largest comeback in Championship ..down 15 at the half