Saturday, April 04, 2009

InClement Weather: Final Four Harsh Realities

In case you didn't know, none of us have to suck up to anyone when we post.
Often we post with our hearts over our heads (okay, this is the "royal we" as in me, or I), but we also don't pull punches in order to keep people reading.

Those who still do read us (thank you!) know this by now.

With that in mind, the Final Four tips off in a little over 2 hours and I have 10 things you need to know about EACH game.

#1. UConn @ #2. Michigan State [6:07 p.m.]

I don't expect Walker and the Huskies to be down very often today. Not at all.

1) Yes, I declared this a road game for the Huskies. It won't matter though. It'll be the equivalent of them playing in MSG @ St. John's. They won't be fazed one bit.
2) Playing these, or any, tournament games in gigantic football stadiums is lame beyond belief. The court looks ridiculous, I keep waiting for a terrible injury on a hustle play out of bounds on the sideline, and the idea of charging over $100 a ticket to sit a mile away is a joke.
3) Jim Calhoun is not a moral coach. However, he's a winner. Guess which one of those most fans and alumni want? Me included.
4) Tom Izzo is so short it's bordering on evil.
5) I don't know if I see a star pro on Michigan State. I do, however, on UConn with Thabeet, Walker, and (maybe) A.J. Price.
6) If Michigan State wants to win, they have to use up every foul possible in order to foul out Thabeet. It only took the Orange nearly 5 OTs to do it. Good luck, Spartans.
7) A.J. Price is a fantastic player. However, I don't think he can lead this team to two more victories and ultimately a national championship. Not without Jerome Dyson by his side.
8) Stanley Robinson is UConn's "Danny Green". As for the Spartans, they'll need at least 2 or 3 "Danny Green's" of their own to pull off the upset.
9) If Sutton can shoot a ridiculous number, perhaps 5 of 8 from behind the arc, than the Spartans can score - for a while, at least - with the Huskies.
10) UConn will do this evening what they've done EVERY game this tournament. They'll start red hot, clamp down early on the glass, and their opponent will only tease us with a few futile comebacks. I know Missouri had a brief lead, but the key word was brief. UConn is winning this game because of an edge in talent and a (very slim) edge in coaching. This won't be an entertaining game.

UCONN wins, 72-63.

Note: Pay is a long-time loyal Tar Heel fan. I know I sound a little "Jim Rome-esque" saying Tar Heel fan, but I am not calling out Pay. He's too smart of a fan not to realize what's at stake and how amazingly good his team's chances are.

#1. North Carolina vs. #3. Villanova

Yes, I'll be discussing the one known as Psycho T. Let the emotions fly!!!

1) What do these rankings mean anymore honestly? You tell me.
2) North Carolina is an overwhelming favorite in my mind. I mean by a HUGE margin, too.
3) I picked Villanova to emerge out of the East because of how they matched up against Pitt. I still would've given the Panthers a much better shot to take down the Tar Heels. Much much better.
4) Despite the previous two sentences, I don't hate Villanova. Not even close. They are, in fact, be one of the few non-Orange Big East teams I can stand rooting for. I just don't like this matchup for them at all.
5) If Wayne Ellington makes 2 of his first 3 shots, Jay Wright and his team are in serious trouble.
6) I previously wondered out loud - on more than one occassion - if Scottie Reynolds hurt this team more than he helped it. Clearly, I was wrong. And no, it didn't take a breathtaking 3/4 court drive for the game-winner to prove me wrong. That just helped.
7) Dante Cunnigham is in a bit of a mess today. Why? He loves that 16-18 foot jump shot; however, it doesn't take an analyst like John Thompson (whose said it all tournament long) to tell you that Cunnigham must dominate inside, rather than outside, if the Wildcats have the slightest chance tonight. Even if the jumpers start to fall early.
8) Pay brought up an excellent point via text. North Carolina has had a week to deal with "Villanova and the baseline". I typically give Roy Williams the benefit of the doubt with extra time. Especially if it's 5 days over 1.
9) Ty Lawson has become the face of North Carolina. That makes them much more likeable for people like me, who kinda cringe with Hansbrough. It's not because he hustles, he's white, or because he's a Tar Heel. It's because it just doesn't feel right. Much like the famed-celebration against the Hokies in last year's ACC tournament quarterfinals (after an amazing shot), the guy just irks most of us more than a little bit. True Tar Heel fans don't need to cry for him to be respected. The hate, or distaste, has everything to do with the realization of how hard he works, how talented he is, and how much our teams need a guy just like that. So take a deep breath Tar Heel fans, you - or your star player - don't have to be liked, admired, and respected by every one. Nobody should want that.
10) You come up with a scenario in which Villanova wins. A realistic one. And I don't mean losing by 1 or by 99. That doesn't matter. You come up with a scenario where the Wildcats, in '09 and not '85, advance. I honestly can't. And Tar Heels fans, don't give me a "scared prediction" because you don't want to predict a blowout.

North Carolina wins, 80-65.

In case you missed it is again.

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