This is going to be my official Final 4 Prediction. We all know that predicting the final 4 is a steep task and often times logic is destroyed by magic. In a one game scenario anything can happen and often times does, so why do we bother ? Simple, people love to gamble and predict things so they can brag to their friends and coworkers how brilliant they are. I am no different and neither are my friends here on this blog, so yes I am basing this on sports logic so this most likely will not happen. Do to worry though I will be posting my wife’s picks shortly who just happens to be one of the luckiest people on planet earth when it comes to gambling so I suggest using her picks if it is high stakes.
Here is my logic when it comes to this. Number one, I want at least 2 NBA prospects on the team. Number 2, I want a head coach who has been there and done that already if possible. I do not concern myself with match ups because basically unless you are a coach or a player on the team you will never know truly how well they match up against an opponent they have never played which is the case in most of these games. Trust me Coach K knows when his team is in trouble before a game based on the matchup but unfortunately we will never get access to that info. So here goes nothing.
This Duke team has been up and down this season and has had plenty of adversity to deal with. They overcame the injury problems to win the ACC Tournament and are playing their best basketball of the season which is always a positive. Coach K has been down this road a million times and will have his team ready for the dance as usual, check 1. Check 2 is the fact Duke sports plenty of NBA talent on their roster and the 2 big guys are Jayson Tatum and Luke Kennard. Tatum is a potential top 5 pick this season and Kennard will get selected in the first round as well. Tatum to me reminds me a little of Carmelo Anthony with his inside outside game from the small forward spot and we all remember how well Melo did in his one year NCAA Tournament. He has the coveted ability of creating his own shot and that is invaluable come tournament time. Luke Kennard is playing his best basketball of his life all season and is another guy who can not only knock down the three but get his own shot off with his crafty moves. What puts Duke over the top for me is the fact they have Grayson Allen who is another NBA prospect who can score as well and Harry Giles who was the number one recruit coming out of high school. Giles is the X factor for me with this team because he has battled injuries and has not really put up any numbers this season but clearly has the talent to dominate in the paint during the tournament even if it is only for small stretches. Look at the last 2 UNC games Duke has played. The first was a loss to UNC where Giles had 3 fouls in 13 minutes with only 1 point and 3 rebounds. A week later in the ACC Tournament in a win over UNC, Giles played 15 minutes and had 6 points 7 rebounds and 4 Blocks. If he performs well Duke is very hard to beat and I think he will.
Arizona won the Pac 12 and looked strong in doing so. Sean Miller is a great coach and makes sure his teams play D despite their offensive firepower. He has done it all expect get to the final 4 and I think this is his year to do so. Arizona has a few NBA prospects on this team including potential top 10 pick Lauri Markkanen and first round pick Alonzo Trier. Markkanen is a 7 foot player with range and after a mid-season slump has come on strong of late. The reason for this is lately he has decided to play inside first and mix in his strong 3 point shooter after instead of what he was doing earlier which was basically playing like a shooting guard at 7 feet. If he keeps playing this way he is a matchup nightmare and really opens things up for his teammates. One of those teammates is Alonzo Trier who is playing great basketball right now after missing part of the season due to suspension. The combination of Trier and Markkanen is dynamic and this team has plenty of other talent to surround them. The other thing I like with Arizona is they are a big team and most teams can not match up with their overall size.
Mid West- OREGON
Losing Chris Boucher hurts but they still have 2 NBA players in Dillon Brooks and Jordan Bell and have a big time ability to score. Brooks is a guy who is a flat-out scorer at the college level and can take over a game by himself vs anyone. This is a team that can get red-hot from the 3 point arc and if they do no one wants to see them with Boucher or not. They will push the pace and have shown they can score vs anyone which is generally a recipe for success in march.
Coach Cal is not only a great recruiter but he some how meshes the top talent in the country to really play as a team and defend. Kentucky is led by Malik Monk who is a top 1o NBA pick and surrounded by other NBA prospects in De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo. Monk is a guy who has shown to enjoy the big games and is willing to take the big shots down the stretch which you need in the tournament. De’Aaron Fox is the best on the ball defender in college basketball for me and that is a huge advantage to have because if you can not stop the other teams guards you can lose in any round no matter what seed you are. Fox is also lighting quick in transition and has been scoring more lately which is huge for this Kentucky team because if he scores, Monk gets freed up and Bam ends up putting on a dunk show. Speaking of Bam I love this guys game. He is not the most skilled big of all time but he has an endless motor, is tough and finishes around the rim with authority. 3 top 20 NBA draft picks and a great coach has me loving this Kentucky team.