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March 28 - Final Four Preview

“I know you guys can shoot, but there’s more to the game than shooting there’s fundamentals and
defense.”

Isn’t it fitting that the state of Indiana will play host to the greatest Cinderella story in NCAA
Tournament history?  George Mason of Fairfax, VA and the Colonial Athletic Association is crashing
the Final Four Party and has made the 2006 NCAA Tournament unforgettable.  

With the marquee event in college basketball officially upon us, it is time for the bars to refill kegs of
Yuengling, slaughter some chickens, and buy vats of bleu cheese.  Outside of Super Bowl Sunday
there is no other sporting event that prompts the sheer excitement and drunkenness than the event
that will happen next Sunday.  

Let’s begin our Final Four Preview with “Big Baby” and the Bayou Bengals versus the Bluebloods of
College Basketball.  It’s been over ten years since UCLA has danced on the Final Four stage, but Ben
Howland has the program back where it belongs.

Backcourt

If you are a firm believer in the notion that backcourt play wins NCAA Tournaments, then UCLA is the
team to bet on this weekend.  Sophomores Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo comprise the best
starting backcourt left in this tournament.  Farmar is the catalyst of the Bruin attack and can do
everything you ask of a point guard.  Jordan Farmar is also UCLA’s gamer as he wants to take the big
shots down the stretch of tight contests.  Most importantly, there are many who believe that Farmar is
challenging Matt Leinart for the title of “Which College Athlete Gets Laid Most In The City of Los
Angeles.”  

Arron Afflalo is as smooth a 2 as there is in college hoops.  His size, athleticism, and range create
mismatches against everybody he faces.  The Bruin backups are also solid as freshman Darren
Collison provides a huge spark off the bench.  Senior Cedric Bozeman can back up both guard
positions and is an extremely effective perimeter defender.  LSU’s backcourt is completely
outmatched and needs to hope this game is won upfront.  Darrel Mitchell is crafty but not
spectacular.  Freshman Garrett Temple will have to bring the same defensive tenacity that he brought
against J.J. Redick.  Affalo’s size will make him a tougher matchup.

Frontcourt

LSU’s frontcourt has been the big story of this tournament and will have to be just as effective on
Saturday if LSU is to dance on Monday night.  Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Tyrus Thomas are NBA
players.  Davis is incredibly agile for his size and seems to have the complete package of offensive
moves.  “Big Baby” also seems to have “sense of the moment” which is something that can’t be
taught.  Tyrus Thomas is an athletic freak.  He’s got the “bunnies” that put him on par with the great
NBA leapers.  Tyrus Thomas does a little bit of everything and will wreak havoc on Saturday.  Tasmin
Mitchell loves to shoot the three and is another “jack of all trades”.  Magnum Rolle and Darnell Lazare
provide some nice depth off the bench.

Ryan Hollins had the game of his life against Memphis.  Hollins will need to have another great game
on Saturday to withstand the LSU offensive onslaught.  Lorenzo Mata brings some beef off the bench
and reminds me of Howland’s old Pittsburgh pupil, Chevy Troutman.  Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is
an incredible athlete and will be an X-factor for the UCLA frontcourt.  However, if this game comes
down to which team’s big guys can impose their will……..LSU will win handily.

Coaching and Intangibles

John Brady seems like a feisty guy and I like that.  LSU also has great chemistry due to their top six
players all being from the Baton Rouge area.  UCLA sits with Duke, North Carolina, Indiana, and
Kentucky in terms of NCAA basketball royalty.  There is more pressure on the Bruins than on the
Bayou Bengals to win this game.  That is big as LSU feels more like the team that is just happy to be
there.  

Prediction

UCLA 54, LSU 49

This game will be an ugly, defensive affair.  UCLA’s superior backcourt
will be the difference.

“Ten feet.  I think you’ll find those exact same measurements back at our gym in Hickory.”

Ahhhhhh……was there anything better than watching George Mason pull through against UConn.  
Story of the year.  Story of the last five years.  UConn has five surefire NBA players and a Hall of Fame
coach.  George Mason might have one NBA player………and that’s only if you think Jai Lewis has
played his way into the League with his performance this March.  However the Patriots persevered.  
Lamar Butler, Tony Skinn, and Will Thomas were all warriors in that game.  So now the ultimate
Cinderella is showing up to face a ghost of Cinderella past.  George Mason……versus Billy “The Kid”
Donovan.  While the odds may be in Florida’s favor, the matchups don’t look too overwhelming……….

Backcourt

Taurean Green is the best guard on Florida and has the skills to take over a game.  He is joined by
Lee Humphrey who is an outstanding three-point shooter.  Freshmen Walter Hodge and David
Huertas might eventually become quality basketball players but right now they are strictly energy
guys.  George Mason matches up very evenly in the backcourt with Florida.  Tony Skinn and Lamar
Butler are both heady guards that can drill the trifecta.  Folarin Campbell is also a nice player and has
the cajones to take big shots.

Frontcourt

This is going to be a great matchup of size and speed versus size and craftiness.  Florida has
Joakim Noah who will one day collect millions of dollars to play pro basketball.  Noah is Marcus
Camby all over again.  Al Horford provides a big, athletic body and he will make his presence felt.  Out
on the 3, Corey Brewer is another guy who does a little bit of everything.  The leader of George Mason’
s offensive attack is Jai Lewis.  Lewis is a space-eater and is reminiscent of Jahidi White.  The
Patriots run everything through Lewis and he is very adept at making the right pass.  On the other side
is Will Thomas.  Thomas is a lefty and will give the Florida defenders fits.  Thomas loves the hook
shot in the lane and Florida will need to overplay him to deny this go-to move.  Will Thomas is also a
very good passing big man.  Spelling them will be the undersized Sammy Hernandez.

Coaching and Intangibles

Jimmy Larranaga has been pulling speeches out of the Norman Dale Handbook all tournament.  
From his “You know what color Kryptonite is….Green just like the color of your jerseys” before the
North Carolina game to “CAA…Connecticut Assassin Association”, Larranaga has been on fire.  The
Patriots can play loose once again as nobody is expecting to see them on Monday night.  The
pressure is all on the Florida Gators.  They have crumbled in the past under it and I think…………..
they crumble once again.

Prediction

George Mason 77, Florida 75

The roller coaster ride continues for one more night.



If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail me at
trevor.freeman@realityfanforum.com.