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College Basketball

Breaking Down The Final Four

by Trevor Freeman

For the first time ever, all four top seeds made it to the Final Four.  The only plus to this in my opinion is that it should shut up everybody who claims the current tournament system does not reward the best regular season teams.  That is because the four teams remaining were without a doubt the best four teams during this year’s college basketball season.  Outside of Kansas who had an epic tussle with Davidson in the Elite Eight, they all romped their way into this Final Four with convincing wins in the Regional Finals and Semifinals.  We have four bluebloods attending this event as UCLA, North Carolina, Kansas and Memphis represent the college basketball elite.  Without further ado, let’s breakdown the matchups.
UCLA versus Memphis

Backcourt

This is a game in which both teams will be bringing stout backcourts to the table, however I would hand the edge to UCLA.  Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook comprise the best starting backcourt in the field.  Both are dynamic players who are a few months away from becoming millionaires.  Collison is jet-quick and has an incredible basketball IQ.  He is your classic point guard in that he generally distributes the basketball and only looks for his shot when it is wide open or when the shot clock is running down.  What makes him dangerous is that because of his speed, he can get his own shot with the clock running down anytime he wants.  Russell Westbrook could be Josh Howard.  Westbrook does a little bit of everything and that includes stifling defense.  A ridiculous athlete, Westbrook is outstanding in transition.  One problem for UCLA is that there is not a lot of quality depth in their backcourt should these guys get into foul trouble.

On the flip side for Memphis they will be showing up with freshman Derrick Rose who will go no lower than second in the upcoming NBA Draft and Conference USA Player of the Year Chris Douglas-Roberts.  The matchup between Douglas-Roberts and Russell Westbrook alone will be worth the price of admission.  Andre Allen, Doneal Mack, Willie Kemp and Antonio Anderson are athletic and give John Calipari some quality depth at the guard spots.

Frontcourt

The freshman from Oregon will be hogging most of the press coverage when it comes to any discussion of the frontcourts of the two teams in this game.  It has gotten to the point that many announcers need to go outside and have a cigarette after any conversation involving Kevin Love.  I will say that Love plays like an NBA veteran as a freshman in college and that is a high complement.  His outlet passes are breathtaking and I love his range out to twenty feet.  Outside of him, UCLA’s frontcourt is full of role players.  Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is UCLA’s best all-around defender and Alfred Aboya, James Keefe and Lorenzo Mata-Real provide some interior beef.  Josh Shipp is a big key for UCLA at the 3, as the Bruins are unstoppable when he scores.  

Memphis has a frontcourt that will not be bullied and they will be led by their senior stud Joey Dorsey.  Dorsey is the kind interior player that every coach loves.  An absolute bully on the low block who rebounds like a demon, Dorsey reminds me a lot of Charles Oakley/Anthony Mason.  Robert Dozier is long and athletic.  He will be a factor on the boards and should block a couple of shots in this game.  Shawn Taggart is another long, athletic frontcourt player who will rotate in for the Tigers.

Coaching and Intangibles

Ben Howland is an incredible coach and his UCLA teams are the only ones in the field that I have not seen play a bad game.  I told anybody who would listen to me that I thought Xavier could keep the game close with UCLA.  I was wrong and am deserving of ridicule for those statements.  UCLA is good.  Very, very good and it starts with the coach.  On the other side of the court, this is the best team John Calipari has had since the Marcus Camby/Donta Bright/Dana Dingle/Edgar Padilla/Carmelo Travieso UMass team that almost went undefeated in 1995-96.

Prediction

UCLA        58
Memphis    56

North Carolina versus Kansas

Backcourt

The matchup of the guards will be an outstanding battle.  Both teams are loaded with talent and depth.  I would call this matchup a draw as both sides bring the heavy artillery.  

The Tar Heels have an embarrassment of riches on the perimeter and it begins with Ty Lawson at the point guard spot.  Lawson is everything Raymond Felton was except faster.  A one-man press breaker he is the key to North Carolina’s uptempo attack.  Wayne Ellington is a solid running buddy at the 2 as he can hit the triple and fill the break in transition.  The only problem with Ellington is he tends to disappear every now and then.  A deep backcourt became even deeper when Ty Lawson was injured and senior Quinton Thomas showed how capable he was of carrying the load.  Marcus Ginyard plays both the 2 and 3 and is a tough guy who rebounds well for his size and will also fill the break in transition.

On the other side stands an experienced quartet of Mario Chalmers, Russell Robinson, Brandon Rush and Sherron Collins.  Mario Chalmers to me is the star as he can get his own shot anytime he wants and can drill the trifecta.  Brandon Rush is an NBA shooting guard.  He is big with a polished game.  The matchup between him and Ellington will be worth the price of admission.  Robinson is a scrapper who doubles as Kansas’ best perimeter defender and Sherron Collins is a pure point guard who can penetrate anytime he wants.

Frontcourt

If North Carolina has an edge in this game it will come with Tyler Hansbrough upfront.  Any discussion of North Carolina’s frontcourt begins with “Psycho T”.  Hansbrough has been quite simply the best basketball player in the nation.  His effort and ability to score the basketball are unparalleled at the 4.  In the trenches after Hansbrough the Tar Heels have Deon Thompson and Alex Stepheson.  Both are solid but not spectacular.  Danny Green is the best sixth man in the nation and he brings athleticism and scoring punch at the 3.  North Carolina will go small sometimes and play Green at the 4 with Hansbrough at the 5.  Kansas will show up with the highly talented Darrell Arthur and will hope he can contain “Psycho T”.  I don’t see it happening which is why I am picking Carolina to win this game.  Sasha Kaun, Darnell Jackson and Cole Aldrich provide some depth for Kansas upfront and all played very well in the win over Davidson.

Coaching and Intangibles

My prediction is that if you thought the Brett Favre retirement tributes got old in a hurry, get ready for 957,856 interviews and articles about Roy Williams going against his old team.  That being said, Roy Williams is superior to Bill Self as a coach and that should also help tilt this matchup.

Prediction

North Carolina    87
Kansas             74

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]

6 replies on “Breaking Down The Final Four”

Kansas I feel like you are greatly underrating the Jayhawks in this one. In the backcourt, I agree that the matchups are really outstanding and that it is close to a draw but I think that Kansas has the edge depth wise. UNC has Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington to score and Ginyard who can play lockdown D but other than that the depth really isn’t there. With Kansas, they have so many guards that are flat out stars. I mean come on Sherron Collins would be starting point guard on almost any other team. Chalmers and Rush can score at will, while Robinson can play great perimeter D and Sheron Collins can control the ball with an up-tempo style.

In the Frontcourt, I honestly think that Kansas has the edge. Of course UNC has Hansbrough who is an incredible player, maybe the best in the country but I think Kansas has the depth to contain him. Hansbrough has a knack for getting guys into foul trouble and than exploiting that later in the game. Kansas has 3 guys in Arthur, Kaun and Jackson that can all play the 5 at an extremely high level. It’s almost impossible to stop Hansbrough but I think Kansas won’t get into to much trouble with fouls and can prevent him from taking over the game.

Overall I believe that UNC’s philosophy of running the ball up and down the court won’t affect Kansas as much as it affects other teams. Kansas is an up-tempo team as well so I think that part of the game is taken away from UNC and equalizes the 2 teams in that area. UNC may win this game, but think it doesn’t happen by any more than 2 possessions.

Kansas You may be right in that the game could be closer than my original call.  I just think UNC can do everything Kansas can, just a little bit better.

Ouch !! Nice try, Trevor, but you missed both of them.

I think most people were picking a UCLA – North Carolina match-up in the final because they were dominant teams in tough conferences, but Kansas and Memphis have been exceptional all season and you might have underestimated them a bit too much.  

I filled only one bracket in this year and, although most of it went to pieces, I picked Memphis to win it all.  At least I have a chance to look respectable again if they manage on Monday.

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hate to say I told you so ROCKKKKKK CHALKKKKK JAYHAWKKKKKKKK

KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK

UUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!

When I am trashing articles in my archives… …this one will be first on the list.

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