Thursday, April 3, 2008

2008 Final Four

Well, my bracket is back to toilet paper status, but at least San Antonio will be interesting. There has never been a Final Four with all No. 1 seeds which is interesting, since that seems to be the point of the whole tournament, seeing the best teams compete for the title. Yeah, Davidson was a good story. Yeah, George Mason was cool a few years ago. But they aren't the best teams in college basketball. Two years ago, Florida won the title and lost six games in the SEC. Not the best team in basketball.

Anyway, that's not what the story is about. It's time for a bracket breakdown of the No. 1's.

We've got North Carolina and Kansas. We've got Memphis-UCLA. Here's the scary stat, one of those that should be obvious, but never is:

Combined record: 143-9!!!

This is the way it should be every year. These four have proven themselves as the top four all season long. The only reason we need the NCAA tournament is to fulfill our need to think that we can accurately guess the outcome of 63 games. All that said, I can at least get three games right, right? Honestly, I think predicting the outcome of this year's Final Four is equally as difficult as the entire bracket is. Any one of the teams involved could earn the crown.

UCLA (35-3, 16-2 PAC-10) vs. Memphis (37-1, 16-0 C-USA)
Saturday, April 5, 2008 - 6:07 EST

Memphis is athletic and hungry. UCLA is established and strong. I think the Tigers are going to be clawing from the jump. There is no other team in the country with the athleticism possessed by Memphis, not even North Carolina. It will be interesting to see how head coach John Calipari attempts to come at Kevin Love, which is the only element the Bruins have that the Tigers don't. Memphis has done a lot to prove that it's cake-walk of a conference schedule lends little to the suggestion that they aren't elite title contenders.

Memphis is poised to win this one convincingly for one reason: they can score. So much emphasis is placed upon defense, and rightfully so in many cases. But people are quick to forget that the object of the game is to score more points than the other team. If you're team has enough talent to do that, then you're gonna win - plain and simple. Memphis is one of two teams in the NCAA with that capability.

Bottom line: Memphis 75, UCLA 64

Kansas (35-3, 13-3 Big 12) vs. North Carolina (36-2, 14-2 ACC)

This is certainly the match-up with the most hype. The Roy Williams faces Kansas storyline is already getting worn out. To me, that's not that big of a deal. Sure the people are probably still pissed at him, but there is no one on that team that Williams recruited, so get over it.

This is, however, the game that I've been waiting for all season. I think that these are the best two teams in the country. They match-up very well, though I doubt Sasha Kaun will be of much worth sharing the paint with Tyler Hansbrough. All other elements provide for an exciting clash. Both teams can get out and run with it and can even slow down the pace and play a half-court game if necessary. Field goal percentage will be key, the way I see it, because the winner will need to knock down shots and make the most of its opportunities off turnovers and on the offensive glass to get the edge.

Bottom line: North Carolina 88, Kansas 85

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