April 2 - Final Four Preview
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
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.
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.
North Carolina versus Kansas
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.
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.
North Carolina 87
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