Uh, that last blog where I mentioned having Mizzou in the Final 4? Just kidding. I assume you knew that. Oh, I had Wake Forest in the Final 4, that much was true. Fact is I'm winning one of my three brackets right now, and it's the $20 one, so there's that. My credibility, though wounded, lives on.
Let's start with a bit of disturbing news. I'm taking a class at OU this spring, and the first session is scheduled for this Saturday, from 1:00 t0 5:00. What the hell? Who does that? Can I make it to a big screen by gametime? You betcha. It might end up being at the Hotel McCarthur, but it'll happen.
But now, some observations:
The best coach in the Final 4 is Tom Izzo, hands-down. Calhoun might be a cheater, Roy Williams doesn't teach defense, and Jay Wright hasn't earned anything yet. Izzo's teams play disciplined, poised, tough, and smart. He completely outcoached Rick Pitino last weekend, slowing down the vaunted Louisville offense and dominating the game.
The best player in the Final 4 is named Ty, but it ain't Hansbrough, it's Lawson. Thabeet is a game changer but UConn can win without him. I know it's a cliche', but Lawson makes everybody around him better.
The game is being played in Michigan, but it won't make much of a difference. The announcers will be blabbering about Michigan State having an advantage, but once the game starts it will have little effect. At that point you have to resort to what you've been taught. Like Mike Tyson said, "Everybody gots a plan until they get hit." Not only that, but the cheap seats the Spartan faithful will have to buy are going to be so far away in cavernous Ford Field that the noise will be sucked into the eternal void. I just said eternal void. Cool.
And now for the games:
Michigan State vs. UConn. UConn has more talent, but as I mentioned before, the Spartans are better coached. The problem is that State benefits from controlling tempo and UConn can play the game either way. Michigan State beat Louisville because they took the Cardinals completely out of their style. With UConn being able to play fast or slow, Michigan State's advantage is neutralized. The prediction? UConn 73, Michigan State 70.
North Carolina vs. Villanova. North Carolina has shown a reluctance to play defense, but that won't be the case here. The stakes are too high and the Tar Heels will be focused. Be prepared to hear endless comparisons to the Villanova upset of Georgetown back in '84, that it's the 25th Anniversary, blah-blah-blah. It won't matter. Villanova will hang for 30-minutes, but the powder blues will pull away for a relatively easy win. North Carolina 85, Nova 71.
So there ya go. Feel free to pick opposite of me, as that's been a pretty successful strategy in the past. I'll save my pick for Monday's big UConn-Carolina matchup for later.
So, enjoy your nachos and cheese dip, and have fun Saturday.