Michigan State's ANDRE HUTSON vs. Arizona's MICHAEL WRIGHT
Tip-off for first national semifinal | 5:42 p.m. ET on Saturday
While watching the Michigan State-Arizona contest this weekend, keep an eye on the two warriors up front. Andre Hutson and Michael Wright are warhorses who love to play hard. They love the physical contact on the inside.
|POST POWER: Andre Hutson and the Spartans are in their third consecutive Final Four.|
What makes each of them special is the ability to finalize. They can close out on the interior. Arizona's Wright is a dominant low-post player who has been solid for coach Lute Olson all season.
Michigan State's Hutson, like teammate Charlie Bell, has great winning habits -- they flat-out find a way to get to the winner's circle. They have four Big Ten championships and three straight trips to the Final Four to show for their efforts.
Hutson is a battler on the inside who gets great position. He has excellent footwork and touch around the basket. Hutson knows how to get great position for rebounds and is so aggressive on the glass.
You also have to like the fact that Hutson is used to the experience of the Final Four. He won't be in awe of the crowd or the environment here in Minneapolis. He will be ready to battle for a shot at winning a second straight championship on Monday night.
I like this matchup inside. It should be very physical as two proud players square off.
Duke's JASON WILLIAMS vs. Maryland's STEVE BLAKE
Tip-off for second national semifinal | half-hour after end of first game
When you focus on the key guard matchup between Duke and Maryland, Steve Blake has had success against Jason Williams.
|Maryland's Steve Blake (25) is back, but Duke's Jay Williams (22) jumped to the NBA.|
Blake forced Williams into 10 turnovers in their first meeting this season and has kept the Duke star basically under control. There have been spots where Jason has broken out -- though the most noteworthy one came in that first meeting, late in regulation and in overtime, after Blake fouled out. Williams did a better job in the ACC tournament meeting.
Blake is a solid player, a "human assist" who can find the open man. He understands how to distribute the ball and get it to people at the right time and in the best position. The Maryland point guard creates problems for a defender because you have to guard him -- he is capable of making the open shot. His 3-pointer tied the ACC semifinal in the final minute before Duke won on a tip-in.
Williams is purely the best point guard in America. It isn't even debatable. He can take over a game, like he did when he scored 19 straight points against UCLA. Even after missing 10 straight shots against USC, he kept his composure and showed his confidence, hitting big buckets time after time down the stretch. His quickness can give the opposition fits and he has tremendous 3-point range.
I also love the way Williams uses screens to get himself open for shots.This should be a tremendous backcourt matchup at the Final Four.