March Madness: Ranking the 5 Best Players in the Final Four

It’s a Final Four that will be both historic and exciting. March Madness has given us two incredible matchups: North Carolina vs. Duke and Kansas vs. Villanova.

The schools involved are notable and arguably the biggest brands in the sport. The action takes place on the court, though, and college basketball fans are lucky because the star talent will be out in full force.

Here are the five best players in the Final Four.

5. Collin Gillespie, Villanova

Colin Gillespie, Villanova, Final Four
Collin Gillespie #2 of the Villanova Wildcats poses for a Turner Broadcasting studio shoot during Media Day for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Final Four | Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Collin Gillespie is cool, calm, and collected. He may not pump up the stat sheet with points, but he’s arguably Villanova’s most important player.

He’s the point guard and senior leader for Jay Wright’s squad. He has the ball in his hands at the most critical moments of the game, and though he’s best as a facilitator, he’s also more than capable of hitting a big shot, especially from deep.

Gillespie averaged 15.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.3 assists this season for the Wildcats. He’s averaging 13 points, four rebounds, and 2.8 assists in the tournament, but he’s the guy the Wildcats look to set the tone, especially with Justin Moore out with an Achilles tear.

Perhaps most importantly for Villanova, Gillespie played on the last National Championship team in 2017-18. That experience will be valuable as he looks to once again help the Wildcats beat a No. 1 ranked Kansas team in the Final Four.

4. Brady Manek, North Carolina

North Carolina’s Brady Manek is hard to miss at 6-foot-9, 230-pounds. He also has a beard that makes him look like he’s been hunting in the wild for the last few years. If you haven’t been watching North Carolina this season, you’ll know him when you see him.

Speaking of hunting, Manek has been hunting for points during this NCAA Tournament run for the Tar Heels, and he’s been a major reason why they’ve made it to the Final Four.

He put up 28 points and 11 rebounds in UNC’s win over No. 9 Marquette. He followed that up with a 26-point performance in the upset win over No. 1 Baylor.

Manek is a big-game player, and he’ll be someone to watch as UNC takes on Duke.

3. Jermaine Samuels, Villanova

Jermaine Samuels, Villanova
Jermaine Samuels #23 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts during the second half of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Elite 8 Round game against the Houston Cougars | Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Jermaine Samuels has been an absolute star for the Wildcats in the NCAA Tournament, and he’s really stepped up his game. Samuels, a 6-foot-7, 230-pound senior forward, averaged 11.1 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Wildcats this season.

He’s averaging 17.5 points and 8.5 rebounds for Villanova in March Madness, not only proving to be the Wildcats’ best player but also making huge plays when it really matters.

Samuels has a great blend of size, length, and smooth touch with the basketball, which makes him highly explosive as a scorer. He’s also been clutch for the Wildcats.

He went 4-of-5 from the field in the second half against Houston, and he even came down with two huge offensive rebounds.

Samuels was named the Most Outstanding Player in the South Region of the Tournament and he has a chance to win that award for the tournament as a whole if he can lead Villanova to another championship win.

2. Armando Bacot, North Carolina

Checking it at 6-foot-10, 240-pounds, Armando Bacot is physically imposing on the court and he plays an exciting brand of basketball as a highly-athletic big man.

Bacot is a rim-rattler as a dunker but also has a smooth touch around the basket that makes him almost unstoppable down in the paint. While he’s a force on the inside of UNC’s offense, his size, athleticism and length also make him tough to handle as a defender. He notched two blocks against Saint Peter’s in the Elite Eight and three in the win over Baylor.

Bacot is averaging a double-double in the tournament, putting up 16.5 points and 15.8 rebonds per game.

He’s a forced to be reckoned with for North Carolina.

1. Paolo Banchero, Duke

Paolo Banchero, Duke
Paolo Banchero #5 of the Duke Blue Devils poses for a Turner Broadcasting studio shoot during Media Day for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Final Four | Jack Dempsey/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Paolo Banchero is getting a ton of looks from NBA scouts and could very well be the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming 2022 NBA Draft. Even if he doesn’t go first overall, though, he’ll be a top three pick.

He’s a 6-foot-10, a 250-pound freshman with size, athleticism, handles and, shooting touch. He basically has everything you look in a modern-day basketball superstar.

He can get down low and use his frame and soft touch in the paint, but he’s also not afraid to get out behind the three-point line and let it fly either. He’s shot 33.3% from three-point range this season but has really found his touch and picked his spots in March Madness, averaging 53.8% from behind the line on eight-of-15 shooting.

Banchero averaged 17.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 3.2 assists for Duke this season, and he’s averaging 18.5 points, seven rebounds, and 3.8 assists in the tournament.

He’s a big-time playmaker, and he’ll be the best overall player on the court in the Final Four.

Stats courtesy of ESPN.

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