The race to crown a national basketball champion is in its homestretch as the four finalists and hordes of media have gathered in my (new) hometown of Houston. It’s a great time of the year down here … lots of sun and still not “hot” … daytime highs between 70-80 … not too muggy. Astros haven’t lost a game (yet) and the Rockets are making a run at the playoffs. In fact, I’m going to the Spurs vs Rockets tilt Friday night. But the best thing of all … I’m going to all three Final Four games with my brother and a coupla friends, including Crash. Yaaaahoooooo … another BLT to go … that’s a “Bucket List Trip”, not a sandwich.
Anyway, I’ve been watching the tournament games like a hawk and since the semi’s are on my mind at the moment, I thought I’d take a few minutes this fine Wednesday to get you thinking about them as well. What’s gonna happen? How are these 3 games gonna play out? Who will be wearing the crown late Monday evening??
Heck, I don’t know … given how the tournament has been so wild and unpredictable to this point, how is anyone gonna be confident predicting these three games? Let’s take a stab at it!
VCU vs Butler (Sat. 5:00 Central): Call me crazy, but I think VCU is fearless enough to win another game. Butler has been here before … but as the underdog … so there are actually heavy expectations on them this time. VCU has assumed the underdog role as “the new Butler”. That carefree, underdog aspect, combined with some real good talent and an attacking style from the opening tip, are signs that VCU will emerge as the victor in this game. Maybe I’m putting too much stock in their win over Kansas, but I came away sooooooo impressed with how they punched KU in the mouth right at the start, kept the foot on the accelerator and never really panicked. Why should we expect anything different against a Butler team that’s not as talented as Kansas? It’ll be close for awhile, but VCU pulls away to win it. (Note: I’ll actually be rooting for Butler given my prairie state roots and family ties to Indy, not to mention an admiration for what they’ve done and for coach Brad Stevens).
Kentucky vs UConn (Sat. 7:40 Central): I’m actually more uncomfortable picking a winner in this one. We’ve got two very seasoned big game coaches with Calipari and Calhoun. We’ve got an intriguing “best player” match-up of Kentucky frosh Brandon Knight vs POY candidate Kemba Walker. Will this game be won in the trenches … and on the boards? Or is this gonna be a coach’s game where Calhoun’s wits are up against Calipari’s fire? If it’s the latter, wits wins just about every time. So I don’t know … it’s a coin flip to me … so I’m gonna go with my rooting interest and then find a reason to support that. I want to see Kentucky win … so here’s why that’s gonna happen: To get here, they’ve had to play better than UConn has had to play. Kentucky was clearly the underdog in both games preceding this one … the wins vs Ohio State and Carolina … they had to play nearly perfect to win, and they did. I also think Josh Harrellson brings the fire and toughness to this fight … the type of player I’m not seeing on the UConn roster, at least among the bigs. Kemba Walker has both fire and plenty of notches in his gunbelt from winning shootouts all year. But I see a more balanced team on the Kentucky side … and for that reason, plus the Harrellson factor, I’m picking the Wildcats to eek out a real close one. (God help ’em, though, if Calipari has to draw up a play … THE PLAY … to win a one point game. Yikes).
Championship Game (Mon 8:30 Central): The fairytale ends for VCU in this one. The 3’s stop dropping, Rodriguez actually turns it over a few times, the ball just doesn’t bounce their way. It’s close … REAL close in fact … but the Kentucky Wildcats will be crowned National Champion for the 8th time. That actually sounded confident … let me rephrase …. I kinda hope Kentucky has enough left to pull this one out. In Josh, we trust! (That’s Harrellson for you novices out there).
So …. there are obviously smarter hoops fans than me out there. What do you guys think? Let us know how you see this Final Four playing out!!! Tell me where I’m gettin’ it all wrong … but be nice 🙂
Good day …