Final Four Preview
Kansas vs. Ohio State
All eyes will be on the anticipated matchup of Thomas Robinson vs. Jared Sullinger, two elite power forward prospects battling for draft position and national prestige.
As for the teams, Vegas set the line at Ohio State -2.5, making Kansas underdogs for the first time in a while. Both teams are similar- neither rank in the top 200 nationally in three-pointers made per game, both average around 75 points and rank top 20 in field goal percentage. Two efficient groups with experience and talented offensive players. But there's one difference in their makeup that should establish itself as a theme throughout the game: Size vs. Versatility
Down low Kansas has 6'8 Thomas Robinson (Sullinger is the tallest Ohio St. starter at 6'9), and center 7'0 center Jeff Withey. Defensively, Withey glides in the paint like he's playing on rollerblades, blocking 3.5 shots a game. These two could make it difficult for the undersized Ohio State front line to get easy buckets in the half court.
On the other hand, the Buckeyes have become comfortable operating on the perimeter. Desaun Thomas, William Buford and now Sullinger have all proven capable scoring out to 20 feet away.
The point guard matchup should be a great one. Though a stud perimeter defender, Craft will have his hands full with the bigger, more athletic Tyshawn Taylor. Taylor wins the physical battle, but Craft possesses the intangibles that help neutralize his physical limitations.
Kansas has baffled their opponents with the triangle-and-two defense: It calls for two man-to-man matchups and a 1-2 zone from the foul line down with Ty Taylor, T-Rob and Withey. Though it sounds simple and obvious, they key for Ohio State will be making perimeter shots. With the two biggest guys on the floor, Kansas could dominate the defensive glass, especially if Sullinger is the one shooting.
Each team has an equal amount of talent, which should translate to a tight, well-played 40 minutes. For what it's worth, I'm taking Ohio State.
Louisville vs. Kentucky
It's no secret that Louisville's success stems from their pressure defense: they rank third in the country in opponent field goal percentage. The only problem is, Kentucky ranks number one, and has an offense that's on another level in terms of scoring ability and firepower.
The good news for Louisville is they have someone to make life at least somewhat uncomfortable for Anthony Davis. Gorgui Dieng, the 6'11 center from Senegal, will spend all 30+ of his minutes in the paint, his true natural habitat. Dieng moves well for his size, and will be Davis' toughest defensive obstacle of the tournament.
But I think that's where it ends here in terms of positives for Louisville. Chase Behanan, their other bright spot, but could be a liability if he draws Michael Kidd Gilchrist as a defensive assignment. When these teams played in December, MKG threw his true coming out party going for an astounding 24 points and 19 rebounds. Peyton Siva was awful in that one, struggling to ignite the offense through scoring or distribution. With Marquis Teague's size advantage and Kentucky's length and athleticism, Siva was forced into bad decisions and extremely difficult shot attempts.
The only reason their previous matchup was remotely close was because Russ Smith went microwave and dropped 30, most of which came when the Cards were down 10-20 points. While Louisville remains the hottest team in the country, they're still outmatched at potentially every position on the floor. Louisville will need Kyle Kuric, Russ Smith and Chris Smith to hit their open looks and a few contested ones to give them a fighting chance against the best team in college basketball. Otherwise, Kentucky by double digits.
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Last year's Duke-Butler Final was 1 of the WORST ever..So its great that this year,fans will get to see 4 historical successful schools going at it...
Louisville has had trouble scoring and i dont see them getting past Kentucky...Pitino has done a great job coaching this team,despite not having alot of talent..
Everybody is talking about the Sullinger-T Robinson matchup,but i'm eager to see Elijah Johnson & Aaron Craft going at it....2 of the most underrated,but best guards in the country...
Last year was UConn-Butler, a championship game with strong defense or lack of offense.
In order for OSU to win, Buford and Thomas must produce because Whitey and T-rob are going to slow down Sullinger .
Kentucky is just too strong for Louisville. Kentucky by 12
Robinson against Sullinger could well have an interesting effect on the mocks for if Sullinger outplays Robinson then they could well almost swap places on the mock boards.
A player like Jeff Withey could also improve his draft stock if he has a good weekend.
Louisville vs Kentucky is the classic unsung team vs the star studdied line up but Louisville would need to have a huge team effort to beat out Kentucky.
Personally I can see a Kentucky vs Kansas final with Coach Cal's guys just edging it.
Lol..Yeah, i meant that U Conn-Butler game was 1 of the worst..
Measured at the Amare Stoudemire skills academy last summer. Why does NBADraft.ent have a single-minded obsession with claiming he's 6'8???
And why is Sullinger listed as 6'10 on your mock draft? Now there's a guy who is 6'8.5" on a good day. GEEZ, I can't wait for the pre-draft measurements. One good thing Ican say about this site is that you update the database fairly quickly based on those measurements.