March radness: Among four No. 1s, UNC wins
Friday - April 04, 2008
No way, I said. No chance. No possibility of four No. 1 seeds going to the Final Four. But that’s exactly what we’re looking at this Saturday. And it should mean one of the best national semifinals in history. There will be All-Americans galore, talent and depth hard to find in the modern era. Then there’s the great sidebar with North Carolina head coach Roy Williams squaring off against his former team, the Kansas Jayhawks.
And all four head coaches could well end up in the Hall of Fame.
Let’s break it down:
Kansas vs. North Carolina. The Jayhawks have as much talent as anybody. They arrive in San Antonio with a 35-3 record. They have four players in double figures and a fifth who averages nine a game. No one player gets even 30 minutes a game. Up front, Darrell Arthur (6-foot-9, 225 pounds) Darnell Jackson (6-foot-8, 250 pounds), Sasha Kaun (6-foot-11, 250 pounds) and Cole Aldritch (6-foot-11, 240 pounds) form a massive, big-man rotation. The perimeter guys who really scare you are Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers, but Russell Robinson, Sherron Collins and Roderick Stewart are all very good players. Kansas wears you down with waves of fresh athletes. They shoot it well - 51 percent from the field, 40 percent from deep,and they average 81 points a game. Davidson managed to slow them down, but still came up short.
North Carolina will match Kansas in talent. The Tar Heels (36-2) may score more efficiently than anyone in the country. They feature the National Player of the Year in Tyler Hansbrough, who averages a double-double (22.8 pts,10.3 rebs) and is absolutely relentless. They feature the country’s speediest point guard in Ty Lawson and a cast of greyhounds who can get to the rim or beat you from deep. Wayne Ellington, Marcus Ginyard and Danny Green average 40 percent from beyond the arc between them. Deon Thompson and Alex Stephenson help Hansbrough inside, and Quentin Thomas backs up Law. It adds up to almost 90 points a game. And they play defense. Go with North Carolina in a nail-biter.
Memphis vs. UCLA. Memphis has the most wins in history to this point (37-1). They also play nine guys more than 14 minutes a game. And only Joey Dorsey (6-foot-9,265 pounds) is a senior. Scary. Chris Douglas-Roberts, a 6-foot-7-inch junior guard, is the leading scorer and first-team All-American. Derrick Rose is one of the best freshmen in the country. Everybody can run the floor, everybody can score. And they can “d” you up. Just ask Texas.
UCLA (35-3) has been transformed by adding one player. They were already good, but freshman center Kevin Love makes them great. At 6-foot-10, 260 pounds, Love is the most complete freshman player I’ve ever seen. Strong, smart,great shooting touch,incredible footwork, best passer from the frontcourt in 30 years, pounds the boards, runs the floor - any wonder that he’s an AP first-team All-American? Point guard Darren Collision is a third team All-American, Russell Westhrock and Josh Shipp are prime-timers on the wing and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Lorenzo Mata-Real and Alfred Aboya all help inside. The Bruins may have a tougher time scoring than the others, but they’re more used to the half court and always play tough defense, which may be useful in San Antonio. This will be another excellent game, but I’m going with UCLA, ‘cause they got the Love.
And on Monday night in a tight one, North Carolina prevails and Roy Williams wins his second national championship.
Doesn’t get much better than this!
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