Hey Final Four! Where’s The Sexy?

Posted on April 2, 2010. Filed under: Basketball, NCAA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Final Four Weekend Is Here!  Who’s excited?  Anyone?  Going once . . . going twice . . . I’m not buying into the hype of NCAA’s main event this year either.  Unless you are a fan of Duke, Michigan State, WVU, or Butler, you probably aren’t planning your Easter weekend around college basketball.

Why?  There’s No SEXY:  If you love defense and inside play, then you will disagree, but if you lust after the fast paced, up and down the floor, gimme an alley-oop transition game, you won’t get it here.  You’ll get gritty work on the boards and nasty loose ball battles.   Here’s a rundown of each semi-final game:

Butler Bulldogs vs Michigan State Spartans:  The supposed undercard of the two games on Saturday is a matchup between the ambitious young gun leader and the unflappable final four mastermind . . . who wins?  Butler coach, Brad Stevens, doesn’t even look old enough to shave let alone lead a team to the Final Four.  Yet in just his third year at the helm, he has.   Ranked 6th in the country in defensive efficiency, the Bulldogs are riding a 24 game win streak and have to be confident heading into their first Final Four in school history.  But there’s one question . . . 

Is being close to home an advantage?  Not always.  Distractions are aplenty and players can fall victim to the HEY, AT LEAST WE MADE IT mentality and lose focus on accomplishing what you set out the season to do.  Not just get to the Final Four, but win the National Championship.  

It’s been well documented that Tom Izzo has gotten to the Final Four at a break neck clip.  To get to college basketball’s promised land six out of twelve seasons is remarkable.  But he’s only taken home one title.  So there’s plenty of motivation for Sparty to excel in Indianapolis and at the same time, there’s none of the pressure.  The loss of Kalin Lucas has brought this squad together as a team and as long as Korie Lucious takes care of the ball, they have a shot.  

Duke Blue Devils vs West Virginia Mountaineers:  The perceived elitists take on the perceived hillbillies . . . both with historically sucessful head coaches, this is the Final Four’s main event.  Bob Huggins is quickly becoming a legend in Mountaineer country and would cement his hero status with a National Championship for his hometown. 

Coach K is already an icon and would bookend this decade with titles if his Blue Devils went all the way, giving him four total (1991, 1992, 2001).   This will be a surprisingly physical match up, with the play in the paint the deciding factor.  

Rebounding will be huge and both of these teams rank in the top ten nationally in offensive rebounding percentage.  A less than stellar shooting team in the tournament, West Virginia relies on second and third chances for a big part of their offense.  Duke has a reputation to be a finesse team, but this year they have a sneaky good, physical, defense.  Although when spread out, they can be driven on.  If the Mountaineers game plan to drive into the lane, they can get to the foul line for some easy points,.  Overall, boxing out and rebounding will win this game.  

You would think the focus on defense and rebounding would lend itself to a Big East/Big Ten tempo . . . and even though Butler and Duke can hang with the physical play, you’d be right.  That’s why I pick West Virginia and Michigan State to win close, need to get a lucky bounce here and there type games and advance to the finals.

What do you think?

P.S.  Using the term “sexy” when talking basketball reminds me of one of the funniest Will Ferrell moments EVER.  Here it is for your laughing pleasure:

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Wrapping Up Big East Quarter Finals Preview

Posted on March 11, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Okay, I am batting ZERO through the afternoon games of the quarter finals, so I am ready to redeem myself in the evening session.  

But there’s one problem . . . when it comes to Pitt, I’m a homer.  So I have to pick them.  No way around it. 

Even though the Panthers were embarrassed in South Bend during the regular season by a Harangody-less Notre Dame team, I have faith tonight.   Why?

Easy.  Revenge.

The Irish were desperate for a win with their NCAA tournament hopes on the line when these teams met during the season.  They shot at a ridiculous clip in the first half against Pitt.  Every time I turned around, Tim Abromaitis – which sounds like an STD to me – was tickling the twine.  He infected the vaunted defense of the Panthers, that’s fo sho.  But Pitt regrouped to win its last three and if I know this team, I know they play well with a chip on their shoulder and Notre Dame left a sour taste in their mouths.

Not to mention, Madison Square Garden has been good to the Panthers this decade, with Pitt going 24-10 and playing in seven of the last nine Big East championship games.  So . . .

Pitt wins 68-62.  I know.  You’re shocked . . .

******

Will Huggy Bear look like this tonight? We'll see . . .

In the final game of the night, West Virginia and Bob Huggins face his ex, Cincinnati, for a spot in the semis.  Mick Cronin has the Bearcats scraping and clawing their way through the Big East tournament, winning their two games by a total of four points.

But that ends here. 

Why? 

The Mountaineers have three guys – Butler, Jones and Ebanks – who score more than Cincinnati’s leading scorer, Lance Stephenson.  Even if WVU struggles shooting early, they have too much offense for the Bearcats to overcome.

Plus, the basketball gods want a Pitt – WVU semi-final game.  It’s as simple as that. 

West Virginia wins 73-66

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