We're down to the Final Four which means that the basketball season is about to come to an end. In the spirit of providing preview for most of the games (I know, I was horrible in the round of 32) I'll continue that storied tradition tonight.
UCLA Players to Watch:
- Arron Afflalo, G, 6-5, Jr., 16.7 Pts., 2.6 Reb., 2.0 Ast.
- Josh Shipp, F, 6-5, So., 13.2 Pts., 3.8 Reb., 2.5 Ast.
- Darren Collison, G, 6-1, So., 12.8 Pts., 2.4 Reb., 5.9 Ast.
Florida Players to Watch:
- Al Horford, F-C, 6-10, Jr., 13.3 Pts. 9.3 Reb., 2.1 Ast.
- Corey Brewer, F, 6-9, Jr., 13.1 Pts., 4.6 Reb., 3.1 Ast.
- Taurean Green, G, 6-0, Jr., 13.0 Pts., 2.4 Reb., 3.7 Ast.
The Match Ups:
- The Backcourts:There's no denying that Afflalo is a superb player and if there is one perimeter player that I think can lead their team to a championship, it's Afflalo. Shipp and Collison are clutch and add to the Bruns' versatility. Florida's Humphries and Green have been here before and that's their lone advantage. I think that Humphries jump-shooting can come and go and despite the fact that they can be difference makers I don't think that's the case here. I like the Bruins simply because they are so talented defensively. Advantage: UCLA.
- The Frontcourts:UCLA doesn't have a comparable frontcourt to Florida, but that didn't seem to matter when they played against Kansas. Leading the way for the Bruins is Mata, Mbah a Moute, and Aboya. None of them average over 10 points, but they are all active and play defense. The problem of course is that they're matching up against some real pro prospects in Horford, Noah and Brewer. That's a tall task and despite UCLA's ability to play ridiculous defense, I just don't believe they have the man-power to stop the Gators in the blocks. Advantage: Florida.
- The Benches:Neither team utilizes their bench players. UCLA goes 8 deep and Florida goes only 7 deep. The Gators' most important bench players are forward Chris Richard and guard Walter Hodge. I like the versatility that the UCLA bench brings to the game. Give me the Bruins. Advantage: UCLA.
- The Coaches:Donavan has been here before and won a title. Howland is still looking for that elusive title. I very much underestimated UCLA's defense against Kansas and I won't make that mistake again. Howland likes to win ugly, so long as it's a win, the problem for UCLA is that I think that Donovan has taught his guards that so long as they get the ball to their big men, they will invariably get open. Advantage: Florida.
DTN Pick: Florida.
Georgetown Players to Watch:
- Jeff Green, F, 6-9, Jr., 14.2 Pts., 6.2 Reb., 3.2 Ast.
- Roy Hibbert, C, 7-2, Jr., 12.7 Pts., 6.7 Reb., 1.0 Ast.
- Jonathan Wallace, G, 6-1, Jr., 11.0 Pts., 2.7 Reb., 3.0 Ast.
Ohio State Players to Watch:
- Greg Oden, C, 7-0, Fr., 15.6 Pts., 9.8 Reb., 0.7 Ast.
- Ron Lewis, G, 6-4, Sr., 12.2 Pts., 3.5 Reb., 1.3 Ast.
- Mike Conley, Jr., G, 6-1, Fr., 10.6 Pts., 3.3 Reb., 6.2 Ast.
The Match Ups:
- The Backcourts:Ohio State's Lewis, Cook and Butler are all talented players, but they pale in comparison to the player that Conley, Jr. is (didn't I read somewhere that Conley and Oden went to high school together?). Conley has led this team all year and the rest of this guard unit has helped lead this team to the Final Four. As I watched Georgetown play last weekend, I was incredibly impressed with Sapp's quickness and it seemed like he was a couple of steps quicker than NC all night. Wallace has played consistently all year and both Sapp and Wallace add a sense of leadership when they're on the floor. Advantage: Ohio State.
- The Frontcourts:Oden is an unbelievable talent, and is the second best player in the nation. Despite that label, there's not much to the Buckeyes' frontcourt. Harris will have a difficult time keeping up with Green. Green is just too athletic and too gifted to be slowed, especially since Oden will be occupied with Hibbert most of the night. I think Oden struggles on Saturday night and I think Green shines and he'll make the difference in the game. Not to diminish Hibbert's role, but my thought is that so long as Hibbert keeps Oden busy then he neutralizes Oden. Advantage: Georgetown.
- The Benches:Georgetown has more versatility on their bench, they have a nice mixture of bigs and smalls that will compliment Georgetown as the game progresses. Ewing, Egerson, Rivers and Crawford all do an excellent job of maintaining the offensive flow of the game. Ohio State's bench is led by Cook, Lightly, Hunter and Terwilliger. I just can't imagine that Ohio State's making that big of a dent here. Advantage: Georgetown.
- The Coaches:I am infatuated with John Thompson, III. I got to listen to him on the radio the other day and was so impressed with his knowledge of the game. Much of that appreciation came from coaching along with Pete Carrill, but to him it is the subtleties of the game that intrigue him. Matta has done an outstanding job of molding a tough defensive team and letting his most talented players play. That can be a difficult task when that team has two freshman like Ohio State, but he has allowed them to mature and it has paid off. Matta coaches a tough defensive game (that would be one ugly game against UCLA if that were to happen). Advantage: Georgetown.