Friday, April 3, 2009

Look for a Pair of No. 1s in the Final

This is the part of the NCAA Tournament where it gets interesting for me.

We're down to the Final Four and, for the most part, the seedings have held up pretty well. We've got two No. 1s, a No. 2 and a No. 3 in the Final Four. There have been a few upsets but nothing earth–shattering.

It seems to me that the numbers favor the two No. 1s.

The first game, at 5:07 p.m. (Central) tomorrow, matches No. 2 seed Michigan State and No. 1 seed Connecticut.

UConn's Hasheem Thabeet is second in the nation in blocked shots, averaging 4.3 a game. UConn leads the nation in blocks and rebounding and is ninth in free throws made, 16th in points per game, 23rd in field goals and 25th in field goal percentage. Michigan State is 20th in assists (but UConn is 21st).

The second game, which starts about 30 minutes after the first game wraps up, will match No. 3 seed Villanova against No. 1 seed North Carolina.

The Tar Heels lead the nation in field goals per game, and they are second in points per game, rebounding and assists, fourth in free throws made, 11th in field goal percentage, 16th in blocks and 24th in steals

Villanova is eighth in free throws made, but the Wildcats won't get enough free throw opportunities to outlast North Carolina. Besides, the Tar Heels are 10th in free throw percentage while Villanova is 19th.

Three–pointers haven't been a big part of the equation for the Final Four teams so I wouldn't expect a lot from outside.

And, unless something really shocking happens in the semifinals, I expect North Carolina to play Connecticut for the title. From that match, I predict that North Carolina, the preseason favorite, will capture the title on Monday night.

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