Editor predicts Final Four matchups
After 64 games in the books of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament, it’s down to just three more to be played. Four teams are left fighting for college basketball supremacy in New Orleans: Louisville, Kentucky, Ohio State and Kansas. Below is a preview of each game and who I think will cut down the nets in the Big Easy this year:
Louisville vs. Kentucky; Saturday, 6:09 P.M.
The Louisville Cardinals had one of the more surprising runs in the NCAAs this year. Similar to what Connecticut did last year, the team got hot at the right moment and won four games in four days to win the Big East Tournament before coming into the tournament as a four-seed in the West region. Rick Pitino’s Cardinals have one of the more dangerous teams left because they play physical defense and can find ways to score in the paint. Sophomore forward Giorgui Deng is having an outstanding tournament on the defensive side, averaging 3.2 blocks per game over four games. Junior guard Peyton Siva is also one of the standout players for the Cardinals, dishing out a tournament-high 28 assists.
The Kentucky Wildcats, their in-state rival, aren’t lacking in the talent department either. They dominated every team they played in the South region as the No. 1 overall seed, so it comes as no surprise on how they ended up in the Final Four. John Calipari’s squad features arguably the best big man in the nation, 6-11 freshman center Anthony Davis. The team leader in blocks, Davis has one of the best motors for someone his size and covers a large area defensively to disrupt penetration to the basket. Freshmen forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, another one of Kentucky’s playmakers, can play multiple positions on the floor. And at 6-7, he provides a lot of mismatches for most teams.
Prediction: The future No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft will prove to be too much for the Cardinals to handle down low. Davis will dominate and will be the reason Kentucky moves on for a chance to play for the national championship.
Ohio State vs. Kansas; Saturday, 8:49 P.M.
The Ohio State Buckeyes make a trip to the Final Four, their first since 2007 when they featured one of the best freshmen classes in Columbus, Ohio, with Greg Oden and Mike Conley leading the way. Named the East Regional Most Outstanding Player, sophomore forward Jared Sullinger provides excellent post presence down low. Sophomore guard Aaron Craft, who plays the point, is the best on-ball defender in the nation. Additionally, sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas has had a great tournament, averaging a team-high 21.8 points per game.
The Kansas Jayhawks aren’t the most talented team in the nation, but they play well together. Junior forward Thomas Robinson’s game has NBA written all over it and he’s a major reason why Kansas has clinched a trip to the Big Easy. Tyshawn Taylor has vastly improved his game from last year to this year, scoring 16.7 points per game for the Jayhawks this season.
Prediction: The Kansas frontcourt will neutralize the Buckeye frontcourt, but it’s the backcourt you have to worry about if you’re a Jayhawk fan. Taylor, as good as a point guard as he is, turns the ball over way too much. Craft’s defense will pressure Taylor on every possession and will be a major reason why Ohio State moves on.
National Championship: At the end of the day, Kentucky just has too much talent on the offensive side to overcome Ohio State’s disruptive man-to-man defense. Calipari will also find a way to get Sullinger into foul trouble and limit his effectiveness on the court.
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