MARCH MADNESS: And Then There Was FOUR

2015 NCAA Final Four

 

We had a field of 68 NCAA teams and they battled for two weeks giving the fans exciting games that ended up with upsets, spectacular endings and people tearing up their papers because busted brackets.  I will admit that my formula was busted the first weekend (thanks Iowa State).  The smoke has cleared and we are down to four teams that will play to “Survive and Advance” to the National Championship game Monday night in Indianapolis.  Michigan State Spartans, Duke Blue Devils, Wisconsin Badgers and the Kentucky Wildcats, who’s try to accomplish a feat that hasn’t been done since the Indiana Hoosiers did it in 1976….have an UNDEFEATED SEASON.

Duke, a preseason favorite aiming for its fifth national title, plays Michigan State, going for its third.

You have to give Spartans head coach Tom Izzo a lot of credit; if you go by the numbers, his team is not supposed to be here.  They finished the season 27-11 and was 12-6 in the Big Ten (3rd). The Spartans are far from being the most talented team in the Final Four, but they have the momentum an are peaking at the right time.  In order for them to advance to the championship round, they must attack Duke freshman center Jahlil Okafor and get him in foul trouble while at the same time hit as many free throws that they can because this seems to be a weakness for the team.  Spartans’ senior guard Travis Trice must continue to have an “out-of-body” all-star playing experience for MSU to advance to the championship game.

The Blue Devils finished their season 33-4 and 15-3 in the ACC.  Head coach Mike Krzyzewski has Duke playing as the most offensively-efficient team in Indianapolis and the quickest in transition.  They must control the tempo of the game and keep Trice and junior guard Denzel Valentine under control and keep Michigan State from pursuing an all out three-point air raid.

Then Wisconsin gets another crack at Kentucky after losing to the Wildcats by one point in last year’s Final Four.

The Badgers are the oldest team in the Final Four and head coach Bo Ryan has to use their experience to their advantage.  Wisconsin have to rely on junior forward Sam Dekker’s hot hand to knock down the threes to spread the floor and let sweet-shooting senior center Frank Kaminsky do his damage down low.  The Badgers have to play a perfect game and try their hardest to keep the ball out of Harrison Twins’ hands at the end of the game because they have the “clutch gene” and they will find a way to win the game if it is close.

In order for the Wildcats to advance and keep their historic undefeated season in tact, coach John Calipari must have his team start off faster than usual.  Kentucky can not start off like they did last week against Notre Dame because that “switch” will not be there all the time.  They have to jump on the Badgers and take away any hope that the have.  The Wildcats must keep the pressure on and this can be done because they have the deepest bench in college basketball.  Pick your poison. UK’s dominance starts inside with freshman forward Karl-Anthony Towns and junior center Willie Cauley-Stein.

Let the games begin.

 

 

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