March Madness has came and went, and we are at that time where everyone's brackets ..."/> March Madness has came and went, and we are at that time where everyone's brackets ..."/>

NCAA Final Four Preview


March Madness has came and went, and we are at that time where everyone’s brackets are nothing more than paper recycling and we have four teams left.

With no #1 seed in the mix and two very balanced first round match ups, there is no clear favorite in this year’s Final Four, but there is a wealth of great story lines.

Can VCU carry their momentum after a weeks layoff? Can Butler make it two years in a row in the National Championship Game? Will UConn and Kentucky be able to deal with the rumours of NCAA infractions surrounding their programs? This week has produced great scenarios around Saturday and today should produce two very good games.

And like last week, I am here to embarrass myself with my breakdown of the games, as well as my horrible predictions you definitely shouldn’t take into consideration when you make your wagers today (I believe I was 0-4 last weekend)

#11 VCU vs #8 Butler

In what is probably the least likely Final Four match up of all-time, the Virginia Commonwealth Rams and the Butler Bulldogs match up in the ultimate battle of the underdogs for a spot in the National Championship.

In a game where someone has to be the favorite, Butler will have to assume the role as they are 40 minutes away from returning to the title game, where they barely lost to Duke a year ago.

Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack have stepped up and replaced former teammate and Utah Jazz lottery pick Gordon Hayward and their hard nosed defense and hustle play has gotten the Bulldogs back to where no one thought they could go.

VCU’s path to the Final Four has been crazy, from a unlikely First Four bid, to a win over USC, then upsetting four more power conference teams, the Rams have done it all on their way to Houston. They have gotten here the same way Butler has, through hard nosed defense and veteran leadership.

What separates VCU from Butler is the Rams love for the three ball. VCU launched 895 three pointers this year and has been riding a 44% 3Pt percentage all the way to Houston. If VCU wants to finish of this season with a storybook ending then the hot shooting needs to continue.

Keys to the Game


Shooting and Transition

It is no secret that VCU is a team that feeds off of momentum, we have seen this all tournament and especially in their first half dismantling of the Jayhawks last Sunday. So outside shooting and getting out in transition will be huge for the Rams, especially off of turnovers, if VCU can force Butler into turnovers out of their stingy pressure defensive schemes and create fast buckets, it will be a huge part of their road to victory.


Perimeter D and Protecting the Ball

Butler forces teams into playing out of their game and suffocates almost all offensive life out of them. That is why they were here last year, and that’s why they are here again.

Last year they held Michigan State to ZERO fast break points in this very game, and if they do that again VCU is going to find themselves in a world of trouble as they don’t score well in a half-court set. If Butler is going to keep VCU in the half-court, they obviously will need to protect the ball. This hasn’t been a problem for the Bulldogs so far, but it absolutely killed the Jayhawks last weekend.

Once Butler has the Rams in the halfcourt, they will need to keep them from going off from behind the 3pt line, there hasn’t been a defensive scheme that has prevented VCU from doing what they do so far, so my only assumption is Butler is going to have to dig deep and maybe let the Rams get some post up chances and bank on Matt Howard’s defense on the low block to avoid getting burned by VCU’s shooting

Prediction: I have gotten burned by VCU before in this tournament, but I honestly think Butler will find a way to slow down the Rams in a way Kansas couldn’t. Butler has seemed to have the magic all tournament. The Bulldogs will win this in a closs one.

#4 Kentucky Vs. #3 UConn

While the other game features two relatively new players on the tournament scene, there is nothing new about seeing these two teams in the Final Four.

UConn is back here on a crazy nine game winning streak stretching from the Big East Tournament. A huge part of that run is star guard Kemba Walker’s clutch play down the stretch, Walker has been picking apart defenders in every way possible and has risen his draft stock while doing so.

Kentucky has a star of its own in Brandon Knight, who along with Terrance Jones give that familiar freshman feel to this Coach Cal led team. The question is; can these freshmen finally get it done?

We all still remember Derrick Rose’s Memphis Tigers team having that epic collapse against the Jayhawks in the National Championship Game, and the question of freshmen being able to handle the pressure is a very real and very scary aspect of this matchup.

Keys to the Game


Freshmen Play

As stated before, the key to Kentucky’s success is the play of Jones and Knight and how they react to the high pressure situation of playing in the Final Four. We have seen underclassment fold under the spotlight year after year in this tournamnet and John Calipari knows all about how badly things can go if his freshmen get the jitters.

Kentucky needs to make sure they don’t have a early letdown and that Jones and Knight get rolling right from the start. If this happens the jitters should be a non-issue.


Balanced Attack

Kemba Walker obviously has been getting all the headlines throughout this crazy Huskies run, but things started turning around for them once Walker started getting support from the rest of his teammates on offense. UConn will need another stong team effort if they are going to deal with a very good and very talented Kentucky team.

Prediction: This game is a toss up, but seeing as I have to pick a winner I am going to go with UConn with off of the performance of Walker and Jeremy Lamb.