Saturday, April 4, 2009

Final Four

Well here were are today down to the last four teams in the NCAA Tournament. For the most part it was chalk throughout the tourney with #3 Villanova and #2 Michigan State advancing past the top seeds in their regions. So let's breakdown these games and decide who's going to win.

UConn vs. Michigan State - UConn has been relatively dominant in the tournament thus far. Michigan State has shown a shooters touch and had an easy road to the Final Four playing the top seed of the tournament who hadn't played any of the top teams from its conference more than once in Louisville. With Michigan State "homecourt" advantage coming in Detriot, an area hit hardest by the recession, it might be easy to think that the Spartans have an advantage over UConn.

Let's rethink this though, Detriot is a great sports town and for the Spartan faithful to travel to Detriot would make it easy but since the recession has hit this area hard, I'd be lying not say that I don't expect an large amount of fans to make it to the game. Factor in a powerhouse school in UConn who generally travels well and I don't think fans will be much of a factor. Also the fact they are playing this game in the center of Ford Field making it tough for the fans to be directly on top of the court noise should not be a factor.

Now for the game analysis, UConn has been too good down low with Thabeet and Adrien for the Spartans to attempt to play this game in the post. The only chance Michigan State has is to shoot lights out the three and make the Huskies match them on every possession. Even with a good three shooting team the long misses and length of the post players for UConn should make it easy to grab these missed shots and convert them into break opportunities or one-shot possessions.

UConn wins this game easily and advances to the Championship game.

UNC vs. Villanova - Villanova has been somewhat under the radar all year but after dominating UCLA and Duke in the tournament teams have recognized their toughness and ability to go deep into their bench for quality minutes when in foul trouble. The only issue I see with 'Nova is that they aren't big enough underneath to match some of the size that UNC can bring off the bench. With nobody on the roster above 6'8 'Nova may have a tough time with the inside game of Hansborough.

If there is one person on Villanova that needs to step up and score its Scottie Reynolds. Reynolds has been the leader of this team for the past two years but hasn't been the prolific scorer he was last year. After his heroic last second shot against Pitt Reynolds seems to be nearing the point to where he knows he can score and can take over a game. For Villanova to compete in this game Reynolds needs to come up big on both ends of the floor. He may draw Ty Lawson on defense so denying penetration from Lawson and forcing him to get rid of the ball to some of their other guards may be key in Villanova keeping this game within reach. On the offensive side Reynolds needs to take it to the hoop to draw fouls or draw a double team to dish it their fowards who shoot jumpers well. Reynolds also needs to catch fire from three to force the UNC defense to come out a bit and cover thus opening up for Shane Clark and Dante Cunningham underneath.

For UNC the key is to get Hansborough the ball underneath because the Wildcats have a tendency to get into foul trouble and the easier they can get players like Clark and Cunningham on the bench for fouls the easier this opens up 'Nova's defense. Lawson will also play a vital role in starting break opportunities for the Tar Heels off of misses and made baskets and his penetration has seemed to be unstoppable. As long as Lawson continues to not turn the ball over, only 2 thus far this tournament, UNC will be hard to stop.

I imagine this game could be the most exciting of this round and personally I would like nothing more than to see Villanova win the game and advance to the championship. It will be tough and I think that UNC has too much quality depth to let this one slip away. Close in the first half I see UNC pulling away late in the second half advancing to face UConn in a matchup that will not be one to miss.

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