Saturday, April 4, 2009


Final Four Predictions and Analysis
For me, the 2009 NCAA Tournament has been a disappointment. I cheer for underdogs over big dogs, mid majors over majors, no hype over hype. I can pick Pittsburgh to win it all, then cry when they beat East Tennessee St in the final minutes in the first game. So even though Cinderella is absent from the final four for 3 years in a row, that doesn’t mean I won’t be cheering for Michigan St. and Villanova like they are the American Eagles. For analysis and predictions, I will put my objective hat on and sort through the matchups to decide who will be holding up the trophy next Monday.
1. Connecticut vs. 2. Michigan St
This game features the grind it out style of the Big Ten regular season champs and the bruising Big East style of number one seeded UConn. Ring the bell, but take the boxing gloves off, this will be a game you want to make sure you don’t let your kids watch alone.
Why Uconn could win: Dominance inside. When you have 7’3” Hasheem Thabeet, 6’9” Stanley Robinson, 6’7’’ Jeff Adrian starting and 6’9” Gavin Edwards coming off the bench, saying you have a good front line is like saying Ndaya Suleman enjoys having kids. Edwards would start and star at almost every mid major college in the nation, and he’s their FOURTH big guy? Even though AJ Price and Kemba Walker can pull their own weight, the Uconn big men time and time again clean up their misses around the rim. They also allow Walker and Price to gamble more on
defense, knowing there are goliaths behind them backing them up.

Why Michigan St could win: Playing their way. Michigan St held Louisville to 52 points. I’ll write that again: Michigan St held Louisville to 52 points! Have you seen Louisville play?! They put up 103 on Arizona. I don’t care if it’s Arizona and a 12 seed, they still play in the Pac 10 with 2 or 3 potential lottery picks on their team. Louisville wanted to play fast, and the Spartans simply did not allow it. They used the shot clock and rarely turned the ball over. The Spartans have the Big ten player of the year in Kalin Lucas and the Big Ten defensive player of the year in Travis Walton (Exhibit A: Terrence Williams, 2 points). They have one of the best coaches in the nation, plus they have something else going for them: Home Crowd. State is less than 90 miles from Detroit, and even though teams get the same amount of tickets allotted I have a funny feeling that the stands will look more green and white than blue. If Michigan St can do what they do best, keep the game low scoring and make timely shots, don’t be surprised to see the crowd get behind them and pull an upset in the first game Saturday.

UConn X Factor: AJ Price. Thabeet gets the hype, but when the game is on the line Price gets the ball. He was hurt last year leading to a first round upset against San Diego leading to extra motivation this year. Against Missouri, Kemba Walker took over the show as Price deferred. Now, it’s Price’s turn.
Michigan State X Factor: Durrell Summers. The only way Uconn is going to get beat is if Michigan St hits outside shots. Even if Goran Suton plays like he did against Louisville, someone else needs to hit shots. Summers hit big shots against Louiville, and Michigan St is going to need him to do the same against Uconn.
Prediction: Michigan St plays well, but Uconn is too tough down low, even for the Big Ten Champs. Uconn in a nailbiter. CONNECTICUT 65, MICHIGAN ST 62

1. North Carolina vs. 3. Villanova
It seems like everyone and their grandma has North Carolina in the Final Four, and most people picked them to win it all. Out of spite, I had them losing to Gonzaga (Whoops). I was privileged enough to watch them live in the sweet 16 and elite 8. They are the best team in the tournament, no doubt about it. Sometimes, though, the best team doesn’t always win.

Why North Carolina could win: Ty Lawson. He’s the best guard in the country, and the best player in the country not named Blake Griffin. At least when we watch him, we don’t have to see 4,329 shots of his parents in the stands (I feel like I personally know the Griffins). Anyway, I was amazed at what I saw when I watched Lawson. He’s unguardable. He’s the quickest guy on the court AND the best shooter on the court (sorry ellington and green). Lawson just doesn’t miss open shots. He creates for teammates and doesn’t turn the ball over. Check out his tournament stats so far: 20 for 35 from the field, 7 for 11 from the 3 point line, scored 23, 19, 19, dished out a total of 20 assists and 2 turnovers, and 6 steals. Are you kidding me? This guy is talked about all the time and he isn’t talked about enough. As Tyler Hansborough was showing why he won’t make it in the NBA against Oklahoma, Lawson was showing why he would be a top 10 point guard… Right now. As in, if he played for the Kings tomorrow. He’s what makes North Carolina go, and he’s the reason UNC will win or lose.

Why Villanova could win: Mental Toughness. When you play North Carolina, you can’t let the awe and admiration of the team get to you. They have multiple future NBA players, Villanova might have none. When they make a run, you can’t fold or give up. I felt like watching the Gonzaga game they were admiring North Carolina more than playing against them. Oklahoma definitely played nervous and scared. I doubt these wildcats will come out scared, and they need to treat this like any other game. The wildcats need to play their brand of basketball: get every loose ball, attack the offensive glass, not let Carolina get out in transition. They can’t let Carolina get off to a big lead either. There’s a lot of things that have to go right for Villanova to win, but in basketball that happens sometimes.

North Carolina X Factor : The “other” big men. Psycho T gets all the credit, but Deon Thompson and Ed Davis are the two guys that really hurt opposing defenses. Teams need to focus on stopping those guys too. It’s tough to stop UNC when Davis is making 10 foot jump hooks and Thompson consistently knocks down 15 footers. If that happens in this game, Villanova will be in for a long night.

Villanova X Factor: Rebounding. Villanova is a team comprised of small guards , and athletic big men. However, there big men are wing players. They don’t have a true post presence. Dante Cunningham and Dwayne Anderson like to shoot outside more than inside. The key to the game for Villanova is limiting North Carolina’s chances. Even though they are undersized, they have to rebound well. North Carolina doesn’t miss much so when they do, there better be a wildcat getting the board. If Villanova limits North Carolina to one shot, and get some loose balls/offensive rebounds of their own by utilizing their quickness, their chances of winning the game increase exponentially.

Prediction: The game is closer than people think. It’s a five point game with 3 or 4 minutes left, and North Carolina pulls away at the end.

Championship game prediction:
1. Connecticut vs. 1. North Carolina
Just what CBS wants. A showdown of two gigantic programs in college basketball. It’s been well documented that Uconn played its regionals in Arizona in 1999, 2004, and this year. They won the championship in those two prior years. Although some people might point to that as destiny, it just reminds me of the 1999 game when a heavily favored Duke team took on Connecticut. Connecticut won that match up, and I feel this one is going to be the same. UNC doesn’t hit as many shots while Uconn kills them on the glass. Everyone plays well for Uconn. That’s what it took 10 years ago, and that’s what will happen this year. Uconn in a classic.
Connecticut 76 North Carolina 72

Important Disclaimer: Shrempf Scampi is not responsible for any lost wagers made based on these picks.

No comments:

Post a Comment