Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Boomer's Weekly Basketball Full Court Press: Final Four Edition

Here We Go! The Final Four is set, with the four remaining teams from the field of 68 ready to battle it out down in New Orleans "The Big Easy", this weekend for the right to be the last team standing cutting down the nets inside the Louiisana Superdome. Louisville, Kentucky, Ohio State, and Kansas will provide us with a GIANT Final Four that includes: Great Tradition, Hated Rivals, Legendary Coaches, Future NBA talent, and a little thing called REVENGE. In the first matchup, the Bluegrass state will be well represented as Louisville faces off against Kentucky for the second time this season (with UK beating Louisville @ home, 69-62 in the first meeting). In the night cap, its another rematch from the regular season, when Ohio State gets a second chance against Kansas, with the help of a certain big-man this time around (Ohio State lost @ KU, 78 to 67 w/o Jared Sullinger). Lets take a minute and breakdown the two match ups and I'll give you my predictions and picks.

#4 Louisville Cardinals (30-9) vs. #1 Kentucky Wildcats (36-2) 6:09 PM EST CBS Saturday 3/31

Two schools separated by just 69 miles, this will be the first meeting between in-state rivals in the Final Four since 1962 (Cincinnati defeated Ohio State in the National Championship). Two legendary coaches that have been to this point before multiple times, Coach Pitino has beaten Coach Calipari in the previous two meetings in which they have meet in the NCAA Tourney, the last coming in the 1996 Final Four, when Coach Pitino's Kentucky team knocked off Coach Calipari's UMass squad in the national semifinals. Kentucky has turned in a pretty impressive tournament thus far, winning their first four games all by double digits. Louisville is making a similar run as last years National Champion UCONN Huskies did, by winning the Big East Tournament and getting to the Final Four. This makes the 3rd year in a row that the Big East Tournament Champions have reached the Final Four. This matchup has to be a dream for anyone from the state of Kentucky with such a rich history between the two schools and programs, it should be very entertaining to watch. Kentucky has NBA talent up and down its roster, but unlike the past two seasons, this team looks to finish off the job and be crowned the NCAA Champions come next Monday night. On the other hand, Louisville has to be the surprise team out of the four in the Final Four. The Cardinals got off to a hot start with a 12-0 mark and were ranked in the top four at one point earlier in the season. Then came numerous injuries and the grind of the Big East schedule and the Cardinals were struggling at times during the season. Fast forward to the present and with the Big East Tournament Championship under their belt and a healthy roster, the Cards have played great up to this point in the NCAA tournament, relying on their great team defense and timely scoring. Although, it would be great to see Louisville continue their tourney run on Saturday night with a win vs. Kentucky, I just think UK is too talented and will prevail in Round Two of the Bluegrass Rivalry and move one step closer to winning a National Championship for Coach Cal. I'm pretty sure, the state of Kentucky will shutdown mid-week and head down to New Orleans to watch this historic meeting.
Bracket Pick: Kentucky
Live Pick: Kentucky
#2 Ohio State Buckeyes (31-7) vs. #2 Kansas Jayhawks (31-6) 8:49 PM EST CBS Saturday 3/31

Being a loyal Buckeye fan, it was tough watching this team during a 2-3 stretch in the month of February.  With a load of talent on this roster, it was frustrating to watch them lose knowing they could play better then what they were showing. However, March came with a renewed look about this team and they now find themselves at the place that everyone had them at way back in the preseason. The Buckeyes, who rely on a number of underclassmen, are making their first trip to the Final Four since 2007, when they were defeated by two-time champions the Florida Gators in the National Championship Game. The Buckeyes had a mix of experience and youth on that team, lead by big-man Greg Oden. This current squad is young, but has been together the past two seasons, winning 30-plus games in the process. This matchup will mark the second time the two teams have played each other this season, and there will be a BIG difference this time around. Jared Sullinger, who sat out vs. the Jayhawks back in December (back issues), should provide the fans with intriguing matchup going up against KU's big's Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey. Another matchup to watch will be the play from the two starting PG's Ohio State's Aaron Craft and Kansas' Tyshawn Taylor. Of course, the x-factor in this matchup will be the play of Senior Wing player William Buford for Ohio State. Buford up to this point of the tourney, has been very quick and at times has had Buckeye fans screaming for him to play better or head to the bench. It will be interesting to see what sort of factor Buford will have for Ohio State in the Final Four. In what looks like the making of a instant classic, I think the Buckeyes use the revenge factor and punch their ticket to Monday night's National Championship Game.
Bracket Pick: UNC
Live Pick: Ohio State

Well, there you have it, Boomer's take on the Final Four and how it should play out. As a Buckeye fan, you like to think they have two more games in them and can capture the schools first NCAA basketball title since 1960. Regardless, this should be a memorable Final Four with four powerhouse programs and a bunch of players that will be making their mark in the NBA sooner then later.