Saturday, April 2, 2011
NCAA Final Four Preview and Predictions
This year's Final Four features two remarkable Cinderella stories, a Danny Manning esque run, and a freshman dominated team with a controversial coach.
For the first time in the history of the tournament, there is not a one or two seed in the final four. Eight seed,Butler, and eleven seed,VCU, are competing for the chance to go to a national title.
Both teams are very defensive minded.Virginia Commonwealth is very athletic and their pressure is very good. They play various differences too. If you start beating the press, they’ll switch up presses on you. One of the things they’ve done a great job of in the NCAA tournament is they’ll use that zone to change momentum a little bit.
Butler is also an excellent defensive team. They can defend at pretty much every position. That’s the quality you have to have at this time of year, and they certainly have it. They have good interior defenders and good perimeter defenders and a great defender on the ball.
On the other side, you have two elite programs with big-name coaches and a constant flow of NBA talent in UConn and Kentucky.
Connecticut is led by point guard Kemba Walker, who has been one of the best players in all of college basketball this year. The Huskies guard is on a tournament run reminiscent of Danny Manning's in 1988. In this UConn nine-game winning streak, Walker is averaging 26.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 38.2 minutes a game.
The Huskies have been arguably the hottest team in college basketball over the last four weeks, winning five straight games in the Big East tournament and now competing in the Final Four.
Kentucky lost seven players to the NBA last year, but head coach John Calipari managed to put together a squad that started slow but won the SEC conference tournament and now has a chance to go to the title game. Led by freshman guard Brandon Knight, the Wildcats have won some close games against some very good teams on their way to the Final Four.
I think the leadership of Calhoun and Walker is going to lead the Connecticut Huskies to the championship. Walker will keep dominating teams both on the perimeter and with his ability to penetrate. As good as Kentucky freshman guard Brandon Knight is, Walker knows how to play and set up his opponents. Freshman Jeremy Lamb has come on of late, and provides a second scorer to complement Walker.
I like Butler’s experience to end VCU’s magical run. Brad Stevens, head coach of Butler, is among the elite coaches in college basketball and he gives his team the edge of experience, an edge that Shaka Smart, head coach of VCU, lacks.