ATR: Final Four overview …
I had Louisville winning the title, so time to re-evaluate. At face value, the 2009 Final Four should be very competitive. Both games have the potential to be memorable. Couple of thoughts …
Team playing the best: Villanova. Since awaking during a second-half run to overcome American, the Wildcats have been stellar at both ends of the floor. ‘Nova’s defense has been sticky and they create matchup problems with players who spread the floor, shoot from deep, and drive the lane.
Best team: North Carolina. No one scores the ball easier than the Tar Heels. Defensive effort remains a question, although UNC has picked it up in the tournament. Ty Lawson appears adequately healthy, which is key. Back in November, the Tar Heels looked a head taller than everyone else. It may be a forehead now, but they’re still the team to beat.
Best front line: Connecticut. With Hasheem Thabeet and Stanley Robinson, the Huskies are the most formidable around the basket. UConn also plays great team defense without fouling. They are long and athletic. The Huskies are one the best rebounding teams – meaning second shot points and limited chances for opponents. An achilles heel is outside shooting. A.J. Price is their only consistent weapon with Jerome Dyson out.
Best coached: Michigan State. With a week to prepare, the Spartans will not only have a home-court edge, but will be well-schooled in their game plan(s). If they execute, they’ll have a shot. Goran Suton is a matchup problem because of his ability to step outside. Sparty also plays in-your-face lock-down defense when motivated. They’ll be motivated at Ford Field.
At first glance it looks like a Connecticut – North Carolina final on Monday. But the Huskies will be in for a tough fight against the Spartans. Prediction? Michigan State upsets UConn and gets its rematch with the North Carolina – on the same court where the two locked horns in early December. UNC may win again, but it won’t be by 35 points.