I'm going to try to be as unbiased as possible in this Final 4 analysis, but it is going to be tough. I think one of the biggest obstacles for me, as I try to get my foot in the door in the sports media and journalism world, is going to be attempting to be objective when one of my teams is in the field. I've always admired the Sportscenter broadcasters and analysts and their ability to give unbiased opinions, even though they probably have a team they are rooting for. I hope that ability will come to me in time.
As a UNC fan I go into this Saturday's matchup with Villanova fairly confident. I'm actually more confident about this weekends game than last weekends games. The reason for this is simple. I truly believe with Ty Lawson playing like he is right now, UNC cannot be beaten. Lawson has been the best point guard in the league this year, and has had a total of two, yes you read that correctly, two turnovers all tournament. The NCAA tournament is all about point guard play, and he is the best in the business. In addition to Lawson, North Carolina's front line is going to be too much for the feisty but small Villanova front line. UNC simply has too many weapons. They beat you inside with Hansborough, Ed Davis, and Tyler Zeller. They beat you on the perimeter with Lawson, Ellington, and Green who are all knock down shooters, who can also score off the dribble drive. They have great bench play from, in my opinion, the best 6th man in the country in Ed Davis, and a great perimeter defender and backup point guard in Bobby Frasier. In short, they are simply too deep and talented for Villanova or anyone to beat them unless they have a bad game. One more thing, for those of you who don't know who Ed Davis is, he is a rebounding and blocking machine. He is probably the best NBA prospect on North Carolina, and I can only hope he will come back for one more year so he can bulk up and develop more on the offense end.
In saying this, Villanova is definitely a solid team. Lawson has shown a tendency to give up a lot of points to good points guards and Villanova's Scotty Reynolds is a very dangerous player. Villanova is also very good defensively and gets after you on every possession. Coming out of the Big East they have battled tough competition all year. They are well coached by Jay Wright and if they are shooting well they could pull out the victory.
The other game matches Michigan State vs. Uconn in a battle of two legendary coaches. In my bracket I had Michigan State losing in the second round to USC, so needless to say they have surprised me this tournament. It was more my lack of respect for the Big Ten than my lack of respect for Michigan State. Tom Izzo's teams always seem to peak in the tournament, and that is a result of his outstanding coaching. Michigan state has battle tested, experienced guards, and a big man in Goran Sutan who can step outside and shoot the jumper. They are disciplined on the defensive end as well, as shown in holding Louisville under 60 points. Uconn has a great scoring guard in A.J Price who could be huge down the stretch. They also have the premier shot blocker in the nation in Hasheem Thabeet, who will occupy space inside. I think one of the keys for the game will be who wins the guard battle of A.J Price and Kalin Lucas. Both are explosive guards and anyone who has watched the tournament knows guards win NCAA titles.
Ultimately, I see a UNC-Uconn final which I will preview if it happens Sunday. If it doesn't happen I will still do a preview, though I might still be crying in a corner if UNC loses(just kidding,kind of.) That brings up a thought I just had. I think I've come a long way since middle school and high school when a UNC loss or a big Patriots playoff loss would put me in a state of depression for weeks. Now I realize that at its core, though I will pull for my teams like a maniac during the game, it is ultimately just a game and you have to move on.
Just got news of the Jay Cutler trade. This is a good trade for all those involved. For Denver, they get to finally move on past all this drama of will he or won't he get traded. Remember, McDaniels is not only the coach, but also the offensive coordinator, and the relationship of QB and coordinator is arguably the most important on the team. Time will tell if this was a huge mistake on the part of Broncos management. For the Bears it is an even sweeter deal. They get a proven, young quarterback who is still getting better and has tremendous upside. The Bears have been looking practically their entire franchise history for a solid quarterback. Though Cutler might not be the next Montana, I think he certainly will have a better career than any other quarterback they have had in Chicago. Plus, the NFC North is about as weak a quarterback conference as there is in the league. With Jay Cutler at QB, newly signed Orlando Pace at tackle, and Matt Forte at running back, and with that always fearsome defense, the Bears should be heading back to the playoffs.
My apologies for the long entry tonight but when I get going it is hard to stop. Looking forward to some great weather this weekend and of course the Final 4. Go Tarheels!