March 27 - Final Four Preview
Goosebumps. That was what filled my arm down the stretch of the Georgetown-North Carolina game
as I watched the Hoyas rally back to deliver a revenge punch that had been twenty-five years in the
making. And I’ll be quite honest…….I was worried that this Elite Eight was going to leave us wanting
for more. I thought the only goosebumps I was going to get all weekend was from a second viewing
of last Wednesday’s “Friday Night Lights” (“friends……friends….Texas forever….Texas forever
man”). Then the last seven minutes of regulation and overtime gave us the stirring comeback we had
been dying for all weekend.
People will argue in the coming days that North Carolina choked away that game and quite frankly the
argument has validity considering they missed twenty-two of their last twenty-three shots. However,
in my estimation Roy Hibbert, Jonathan Wallace, Jeff Green and the rest of the Hoyas took that game
from them. They stifled them on defense down the stretch and executed their “Princeton” offense to
perfection. With the Final Four looming in under a week, we have broken down the matchups and
provided our predictions. We begin with…….
Georgetown versus Ohio State
The matchup everyone will talk about this week is Greg Oden versus Roy Hibbert. Freshman versus
Upperclassman. The guy who entered high school as the big hype versus the guy once labeled “The
Let the record show that at the beginning of this season I wrote about Roy Hibbert getting lost in Greg
Oden’s hype and that Hibbert could become a star in his own right. I wrote that it is odd a guy with his
hands, his size, his footwork and his post moves is just getting lost in the shuffle. Saturday night, the
most undervalued 7’2” 280 pound center I have seen come through college in a long time will play
Oden to a draw (if not win the matchup). Book it. Yes, Greg Oden may eventually become a dominant
NBA center, but as of this moment right now...Hibbert is the more polished big man with more
polished post moves. Do not sell on the fact that this is the first time in Oden’s life there will be
somebody looking down on him on every single possession.
While the Hibbert-Oden matchup garners the attention, the reason why Georgetown has a great
chance of beating The Ohio State University is because of the play of Jeff Green. Outside of “Barney
Stinson”, I can’t think of a smoother player currently getting airtime on CBS. There is nobody on the
Buckeye roster with the combination of size and speed that can play Green. In fact if Green doesn’t
get 25 and 12 on Saturday night, I will be surprised. This is the game where Jeff Green cements his
status as the second most NBA ready player in the college game (behind Kevin Durant). The Hoyas
have a lot of frontline depth behind Green and Hibbert, as DaJuan Summers and Patrick Ewing Jr.
are both capable of having big games.
The other Ohio State frontliners are kind of like the girl you convince to come home with you at 1:00 in
the morning. Not sloppy, but spectacular either. Othello Hunter may have to play a bigger role here,
as his size will be necessary on Jeff Green. Ivan Harris can step out and shoot it, but he’s too
undersized to guard Green. Matt Terwilliger is just a body that can get you five fouls.
This is where Ohio State has to make some hay. Mike Conley Jr. and Ron Lewis give them a clear
edge over Jessie Sapp and Jonathan Wallace. Conley Jr. is a guy that will be starting NBA All-Star
games in about five years. He is one of those players who doesn’t even have to be scoring to be
effective. Ron Lewis not only stretches defenses but as shown in the Xavier game…hits big shots.
The Buckeyes have great depth along the perimeter as David Lighty, Daequan Cook, and Jamar
Butler are all very capable players. Especially Cook. While he seems to have regressed during the
season (my friend argues that his legs are probably gone because the amount of times he is getting
laid has dramatically increased from high school to college), Cook has explosive athleticism and at
times has displayed a great jump shot.
While Georgetown’s guard play has improved throughout the course of the season, they don’t have
the athletes that Ohio State does. Jesse Sapp is one of those guys who does a little bit of everything,
but he is not star caliber. Jonathan Wallace is tremendous jump shooter. What he lacks in
quickness he makes up for in intelligence. If either of these two players get in foul trouble and
Jeremiah Rivers sees a lot of playing time…….well that would not be a good thing.
There are two giant intangibles in the Hoyas favor. First off, the caliber of women at Ohio State is
much higher than the caliber of women at Georgetown, which means the Hoyas should have fewer
distractions this week. Can’t discount that during a hyped up party week like the one preceding the
Final Four is. Also, when John Thompson III goes to breakdown film, I am sure he will enlist the
services of his father and Pete Carril. When Thad Matta goes to breakdown film……..he will get…….
Ohio State 54
Florida versus UCLA
Huge advantage for the Florida Gators in this matchup. Look for the Gators to get a lot of second
chances and to dominate the points in the paint battle. Al Horford is as skilled a big man and Joakim
Noah is as athletic a big man as there are in college basketball. Together they are just a devastating
combination. At the 3, Florida comes with Corey Brewer. Brewer is probably the best defensive small
forward to play college basketball since Stacy Augmon. Look for Brewer to spend a lot of time
shadowing Arron Afflalo. There is depth in the frontcourt as well as Chris Richard could start for just
about any other team in college hoops.
UCLA’s frontcourt is solid. Josh Shipp and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute lead the way. Shipp missed
last year’s game with Florida and is one of the reasons why UCLA thinks they will win the rematch.
Shipp is a gifted scorer who should see a favorable matchup against Lee Humphrey due to the fact
that Florida will use Brewer on Arron Afflalo. UCLA could use recruit Kevin Love for this game though.
If Lorenzo Mata gets into foul trouble they could be completely screwed. Mata has to stay on the floor,
as he is probably their best post defender. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is a tremendous athlete who
can guard both the 3 and the 4. He has quick hands and is great in transition. Alfred Aboya is
serviceable. Look for James Keefe to see a good amount of time in this game, as the Bruins may
need his body.
This is where UCLA should make some hay. Jordan Farmar declaring for the draft was a blessing in
disguise (which I boldly predicted at the beginning of the year) as Darren Collison brings more speed
and athleticism to the table. Collison is also a better decision maker with the basketball out in the
open court. Arron Afflalo is Brandon Roy all over again. He could walk into the NBA right now and
hold his own at the 2. Maybe he doesn’t have a ton of upside but he does possess a complete all-
around game. Needless to say you can expect to see him get passed on by about 26 NBA teams in
the upcoming NBA Draft and wind up in Miami, Dallas, Detroit or San Antonio. Backing them up are
Russell Westbrook and Michael Roll. Westbrook in particular could do some damage as he has
shown the ability to score in bunches.
Florida’s backcourt is Taurean Green and Lee Humphrey………..and…….ummmm……well Walter
Hodge isn’t terrible……but you get my drift. Everybody talks about attacking Florida’s bigs and getting
them into foul trouble, but I think Florida is most susceptible at the guard spots. UCLA is the kind of
team that can exploit this, as Collison likes to put the ball on the deck and go towards the basket. If
Green gets into any kind of foul trouble then the Gators are more screwed than “Ari Gold” was when
“Bob Ryan” sold the rights to “I Wanna Be Sedated” on “Entourage”.
The biggest one here is the most obvious. Florida beat UCLA in last year’s national title game. Do
the Bruins return the favor………….I say yes.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.