Saturday, April 5, 2008

Final Four Previews



NCAA Women’s and Men’s Final Four Tournaments are this weekend – YAAAAY! The women are a strong bunch with Stanford, UConn, Tennessee, and LSU. The men’s tourney has UCLA, Kansas, Memphis, and North Carolina. If I was to pick the winners I would of course say that the Stanford women and UCLA men would be the victors but I’ll try to give a less biased synopsis of each team.

Women

Stanford has been absent from the Final Four for 11 years. Coach Tara VanDerveer has a visibly more relaxed exterior though and a hot team led by star Candice Wiggins. Wiggins scored 41 points in the regional final victory. Overall the Cardinal make over 50% of their shots from the field and have an average of 86 points.

UConn are touted as not giving many clean 3-point shots, with opponents only making 27% of shots in 3-point territory. Coach Geno Auriemma has been selected as the Coach of the Year by the U.S. Basketball Writer’s Association. Freshman Maya Moore has collected awards including USBWA Freshman of the Year, AP first-team All-American, and Big East Player of the Year. The Huskies' strong defense is expected to be their edge.

Tennessee is led by first-team All-American Candace Parker but lost to LSU in February 78-62 after having a 19 point lead earlier in the game. They have the luxury of being the reigning champs, but will have to work hard to make it back-to-back titles. Analysts have called them “senior heavy” and “distracted” with respect to looking forward to the post season.

LSU is also led by a first-team All-American in Sylvia Fowles but has lost in the last four straight Final Four contests. The team has many of the same players from the previous year and will likely be ready to make a statement. Given credit as relentless defenders, they’ll want to defend their honor with a W.

Men

UCLA has become a bona fide “basketball school” and makes their third straight Final Four appearance. Much of the hype surrounds Kevin Love and his remarkable abilities. Simply because the team rested a bit in some of their games does not mean that they are not a threat. Again, I’m biased, but I wouldn’t write UCLA off. On a lighter note, ESPN’s Dave Dameshek does a great Ben Howland impression.

Memphis has had two straight Elite Eight appearances with no Final Four. They will also certainly have something to prove. Coach John Calipari has been using the “no one believes in Memphis” song all year and led the men to an unquestionably deserved number one seed.

North Carolina has been billed as near-perfect and has many star juniors. At least two are considering the NBA draft, but they could return if they win and try for two à la Florida according to ESPN’s Andy Katz. They’ve essentially dominated each game in the tourney and not a group to take lightly.

Kansas lost in the Elite Eight last year to UCLA but defended their right to be in the Final Four by squashing Cinderella Davidson’s dreams in a nail-biter. Guard Brandon Rush and center Sasha Kaun are dangerous and will help make a memorable event.

Mascots

As I was on the treadmill yesterday morning watching ESPN, they had a segment choosing the Final Four based on mascots since all are animals this year. Enlisting the help of an animal “expert” the questionable decisions were interesting. First up, the Rams vs. Jayhawks was chosen believably with Rams being the victor. Next, the Bruins vs. Tigers was postulated and rightfully determined a close match. Eventually, the expert chose the Tigers. In the final matchup – Tigers v. Rams, the “expert” chose the Rams. Apparently the “expert” was biased since she works with Rams and felt some sort of loyalty to them. I guess she thinks she’ll break her mamma’s back if she steps on a crack also.

2 comments:

Lindsay said...

Hmm, I think if it were the Tigers and the Rams, the Tigers would win.

Apryl DeLancey said...

Yeah, I thought so too!