» By DANIEL NEWTON – firstname.lastname@example.org
Kentucky: Talent. Playing in the Southeastern Conference did not allow Kentucky to portray their talents against the strongest competition, but the tournament has done otherwise. With superior athletic ability at all positions, Kentucky has made the tournament look like conference play, running teams like Iowa State, Indiana and Baylor who have all beaten teams in the final four, out of the gym.
Coach John Calipari has this superstar-loaded team playing great basketball together. Combine that with their talent, Kentucky is most likely the favorite to win it all for most people.
Louisville: Fearless. Rick Pitino’s squad does not have the most talent or flashiness, but they are not afraid of anyone.
Playing in arguably the strongest conference, the Big East, Louisville has yet to back down against any opponent and has carried their momentum from winning the Big East tournament all the way to the final four, much like last year’s champion Connecticut.
Behind tough-nosed defense, constant hustle and unselfish play, Louisville has made it farther than most people expected, but their success is no surprise to the Louisville squad.
Ohio State: Blossoming. Touted as one of the pre-season favorites, the Buckeyes had some questionable losses throughout the regular season.
The Big 10’s tough and physically demanding style of play has been effective in years past in the tournament, and Ohio State has willed their way to the final four behind one of the best post-guard combination in Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft as the team has finally started to live up to its potential.
Kansas: Underrated. After starting the season 7-3, many people wrote off Kansas for the season and considered this a rebuilding year.
The Kansas specialty for this year has been finding ways to win when they are having a less than average game, and showing up big against good competition.
Their tough, high-pressured defense has kept them in games while the offense has sputtered in the tournament, but expect Bill Self to have his team prepared to score some points in their remaining games.
Prediction: Kentucky is just too talented for Louisville. Unless the Kentucky inexperience comes heavily into play in this big game, expect Kentucky to get by Louisville in a hard fought game. I like Kansas against Ohio State as long as they stay out of foul trouble since they have a very short bench. I like the speed of Kansas over Ohio State’s strength, which will be a deciding factor.
In a surprise pick, I still stick with Kansas over Kentucky as I believe Self’s coaching strategies will constrict Calipari’s more talented team in the championship like he did four years ago when Kansas beat Memphis in a similar scenario. TAS