In a little over a day, the first game of the Final Four will tip-off in New Orleans. Kentucky and Louisville will battle each other in the first semi-final, and Kansas will take on Ohio State in the second game. This is the first time since 2003 that the Final Four will take place in New Orleans, when Carmelo Anthony and Syracuse survived a furious comeback by Kansas to take the championship. At least Kansas got the memo in last weekend’s Elite Eight game.
Here are my predictions.
Louisville and Kentucky: My initial reaction is to find someway – anyway – for Kentucky to lose. As much as I want to say Louisville’s press and guard play is enough to slow down one of the most physically gifted teams in college history, I really don’t see it. Kentucky’s front court is stacked, and they have gone unchallenged throughout the tournament. Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is too much. Louisville needed a near-miracle to advance past Florida in Friday night’s Elite Eight, and as much as I respect Rick Pitino’s team and Peyton Siva’s play throughout the tournament, I really think they would need an absolute miracle to pull the rabbit out of the hat. Kentucky by at least 10.
Ohio St. vs. Kansas: Jared Sullinging and Thomas Robinson in the National Semi-Final game. What could be a better way to cap off the Final Four? I think this is the better match-up in tomorrow night’s festivities. I’m tempted to pick Ohio State, but it’s hard to overlook Kansas’ physical prowess. I do think that whichever team’s big man has a better night has the distinct advantage. I think Kansas has the better team, but I think Ohio State has the chance to knock them off. Thad Matta has been on the precipice of greatness for the past three years and I think this is as good of a chance as he has ever had. This is going to be a close game, but I still think Kansas will end up winning.
That creates one of my “worst-case scenarios” for the National Championship Game – Kansas vs. Kentucky. I won’t hide that those are the two of my least favorite teams in college basketball. Still, if that’s the title game match-up, then on paper you will have the two most talented teams in college basketball playing for the National Championship.
Next week: National Championship preview and my MLB Season Preview.