|ESPN.com: Dick Vitale||[Print without images]|
Let's take a look at the two matchups at the Final Four and predict who will leave Houston as national champion.
VCU and Butler meet in the first national semifinal. Can Brad Stevens' team win another close one? Its past nine NCAA tournament games have been decided by a total of 30 points, an average of fewer than four points per game. In their four tournament games this year, the Bulldogs have won by a total of just 13 points.
Matt Howard and Shelvin Mack have been the inside-outside duo to watch, but there are other players to keep an eye on.
|Joey Rodriguez and his mates promote chaos to unsettle opponents.|
Shawn Vanzant can make big plays. Ronald Nored is a defensive stopper who is now coming off the bench. Khyle Marshall had 10 points and seven offensive rebounds against Florida in the Elite Eight.
On the other side, Shaka Smart's Rams have a catalyst in ball handler and playmaker Joey Rodriguez. The 5-foot-10 guard has had a solid assist-to-turnover ratio in the tournament. Jamie Skeen had 26 points and 10 rebounds against Kansas, and Bradford Burgess and Brandon Rozzell have stepped up big-time.
VCU has been effectively shooting the trifecta. The Rams have made 30 3-pointers in their five tournament games so far. This VCU run, in my opinion, is even better than George Mason's run in 2006, when Jim Larranaga's club beat Michigan State, North Carolina and Connecticut.
This should be a tremendous game. I picked against the Rams before, but I believe in VCU now. I understand there was a big sign in Richmond which said, "Eat Crow, Baby!"
OK, I get it. I am going with VCU to advance.
Then there is Connecticut-Kentucky, a rematch of a game in Maui, which the Huskies won easily, 84-67.
John Calipari and Jim Calhoun renew their rivalry wow!
Connecticut has won 12 straight games in tournament play this year. It started with three big W's in Maui, giving this club a boost in confidence. Those wins came over a very good Wichita State team, Michigan State and Kentucky. Then came the incredible performance in New York, the best tournament run I have ever seen. The Huskies won five games in five days in the Big East tournament, including four against ranked teams.
Kentucky is a different team compared to the one that faced UConn in Maui. Josh Harrellson was scoreless in that game, but he has emerged since then. He performed well against Ohio State's Jared Sullinger and the North Carolina front line.
Brandon Knight was Struggle City, going 0-for-8 on trifectas in the first meeting. The diaper dandy hit big shots against Princeton and Ohio State, and then hit five trifectas against the Tar Heels.
Calipari, the second coach to take three different schools to the Final Four (joining Louisville coach Rick Pitino), has his team playing outstanding defense.
I am going with Kentucky to beat Connecticut.
In the final, I think there will be a big-time celebration in Lexington. Big Blue fans will be jubilant as Calipari's Cats cut down the nets in Reliant Stadium.
The Final Four should be awesome, baby, with a capital A!