And Then There Were Four
Who has the best chance to win the National Championship this year?
Here's a look at the Final Four and the chance I give each team to win the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Title.
Here we go....
Sporting News National Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, First Team All-American, whatever else you want.... Anthony Davis has done it all this year. He is the most complete player left of the four teams still in it. If you have a player like Davis on your team, the odds of winning it all increases ten fold.
Pair him with Second Team All-American guard Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and your odds go up even more. What a great basketball name: Kidd-Gilchrist! His name sounds like he should be spinning records at the National Championship after party. The name alone gives them a better chance to win it all.
Then you have Head Coach/Agressive Used Car Salesman John Calipari at the helm. You gotta like the Wildcats' chances of bringing home the hardware.
Percent of winning the tournament: 85%
I love the fact that Roy Williams not only lost to his former team, but the Tar Heels got it handed to them against the guy that replaced him, Bill Self. I know that North Carolina was without their starting PG and that's a huge loss, but Kansas took control of this game early and never let up. And they did it against one of the premier programs in the country.
Tyshawn Taylor was not having a good tournament until he erupted on 10-19 shooting for 22 points, 5 assists, 6 rebounds and 5 steals! If he's found his stroke and all of a sudden gotten hot, it couldn't be better timing than in the Final Four.
First Team All-American Thomas Robinson is playing about as good as anyone in the tournament. He's averaging 15.75 PPG and 12.5 RPG and he's been doing the heavy lifting on this Jayhawks team that matches up well against Kentucky if we indeed see these two teams in the championship game. His shooting percentage needs to go up a bit, but he's been pretty solid thus far.
Percentage of winning the tournament: 55%
3.) Ohio State
Thad Matta's team isn't very deep and the starting five usually plays a majority of the game, but is there a better starting five, top to bottom, than the Buckeyes?
Ohio St. has one of the best players in the country in Jared Sullinger and a supporting cast that makes this Final Four run unsurprising. The Big Ten was deep this year, so the Buckeyes had plenty of competitive games to prepare them for their tournament run, but their lack of bench has to be disconcerting.
Still, you have to like their first five against the other teams' first five on any given night. Kansas will be a tough opponent, especially since Sullinger will be matching up against Thomas Robinson. If Matta goes zone to spell Sullinger a bit on the defensive end that might help him to not be so exhausted come the final 5 minutes of the game.
Deshaun Thomas could be a matchup problem for Kansas. It could force Bill Self to play forwards Kevin Young and Justin Wesley off the bench a little more than he would want.
Percentage of winning the tournament: 35%
Louisville's odds of winning this thing go down drastically just because they're facing Kentucky in the Final Four. I would bet few people had them going this far.
Rick Pitino knows how to coach come tournament time and has taken Providence, Kentucky and Louisville to Final Four appearances. Pitino took the Cardinals to the Final Four when they were in Conference USA and this will be the first time as a member of the Big East. It doesn't matter what conference they're in, Pitino won't go down easily against Kentucky.
They will have to be careful because Louisville doesn't match up well with Ketucky. Apart from sophomore C Gorgul Dieng, they do not have a lot of size to combat the Wildcats depth at height.
Freshman F Chane Behenan has to have a big game for Louisville to have a chance against the Wildcats. But put nothing past Pitino when it comes to big games, he coaches with impunity and do not be surprised if they knock off Kentucky. Quite frankly, I am impressed they made it this far. And so should everyone else.
Percentage of winning the tournament: 15%