Friday, April 4, 2008

NCAA Final Four Preview

So this big thing called the Final Four is happening. Apparently, these kids get together and play basketball! Things get so nutty that some say it is MADNESS. Apparently this spectacle of sport occurs in MARCH. And take a wild guess at what these hooligans have been calling it. That's right, MARCH MADNESS!

In all seriousness, this is my favorite time of the year. I love the underdogs against the big dogs, I love the last-second finishes, and I absolutely love Kevin Love of UCLA. A man among boys, especially seeing that he is 19.

Here's the matchups for tomorrow night.

Manchild Tyler Hansbrough leads his UNC Tar Heels against Brandon Rush and the Kansas Jayhawks Saturday at 8:47 EST

Though Hansbrough bothers me (I don't know why, he just does), I cannot see Kansas coming out alive in this one. Kansas has had an amazing season. Bill Self, the head coach, has had a TON of pressure on his shoulders in trying to keep up the Kansas tradition (which has been lacking of late).

Yet NC is STILL hitting their stride. With the Manchild Hansbrough playing at 100% every single game (and apparently his strict training regime, according to Roy Williams), I don't see him gassing out any time soon. The only way I see Kansas making it to the National Championship is if Ty Lawson doesn't show up to play. With a tweaked ankle suffered at the end of the Louisville game, Lawson's strength (his speed) could turn out to be the team's weakness.

UNC 89 - Kansas 80

I won't front here, I have a mancrush on Kevin Love. The man can chuck the ball with the accuracy, speed, and power of an NFL quarterback, dominate the post like a brick wall, and slip into the paint like a thief. I will probably be like a kid on Christmas day getting a Nintendo Wii if the Manchild Tyler Hansbrough and my Mancrush Kevin Love make it.

That being said, UCLA is an enigma this year. I picked a lot of the PAC-10 teams to go pretty far (notably UCLA winning the tourney, USC making it to the Elite 8 and Stanford making it to the Final Four, we'll see if I go 0-fer), but it has been a letdown. I think UCLA has been playing to their competition. They have barely won games which they should have dominated, and I really haven't been too impressed with what's happened in the tournament.

But if UCLA does have one advantage over Memphis, it is that Ben Howland and the rest of the team has experience. I have been listening to Jim Rome praise Howland for his work ethic over the past week (which he totally deserves), but I'm hoping UCLA suprises me and comes up with something spectacular against Memphis.

But let's not forget Memphis! John Calipari is turning out to be a genius. Perhaps it was the ESPN inoculation that I have experienced through the tournament, but all I think about is "Memphis is young, they aren't as sexy as UNC or UCLA or Kansas, and they can't shoot free-throws." While it is true they aren't as sexy, their free-throw shooting against Texas was 83.3%. Have a bigger hankering for stats? Try this on for size.

Memphis Free Throw Shooting in NCAA Tournament
v. UT Arlington - 62.9%
v. Mississippit State - 46.9%
v. Michigan State - 74.3%
v. Texas - 83.3%

For a Tournament average of.....66.85%

While it may seem a bit low, Memphis has shown up for the big games. Coach Cal is going to use all this negative press and pub to get his team fired up, using the Detroit Pistons (and a host of other teams) motivational tool of "We deserve respect"

UCLA 81-Memphis 80, with Coach Cal taking it right to K-Love all game long (but Coach Howland withstanding the attack)

Final Four on CBS tomorrow night starting at 6:47 EST (4:47 MST, right after General Conference!)

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