The NCAA Tournament’s Final Four will tip off on Saturday. Each of the four teams has won its four games to reach this point and fans know the strengths of each team, but what weakness or weaknesses could spoil their national championship dreams.
Duke defeated Gonzaga despite big man Jahlil Okafor having an off night. The Blue Devils played tough defense and only had three turnovers in the game.
Kentucky is likely the best defensive team to ever play college basketball. Willie Cauley-Stein can play defense as well as anyone and alter shots. Add in another 8 or 9 players capable of staring for any other team and you have a recipe for success.
Michigan State has a mental toughness better than any of the other teams. Even though Travis Trice was cold and Denzel Valentine’s made a few too many errors, the Spartans over came that by leaving it behind and moving on.
Wisconsin is the consummate “team” in this Final Four. Everyone seems in sync and everyone knows where everyone should be and usually is, on the floor.
The four head coaches – Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Kentucky’s John Calipari and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo – are four of the best in the history of college basketball. Each will have his team properly prepared for their Saturday game.
Even though all four are superb teams, just one will win the national championship.
Duke has great freshmen, of which three start, but take one of them out of the equation or neutralize Quinn Cook the team’s star senior guard and Duke has a huge problem on its hands.
Kentucky was lucky no to have Karl-Anthony Towns double-teamed by Notre Dame. Because of that, the Wildcats were 10 of 12 late in the game from the field. Towns shot 50%. If there is one slight crack in Kentucky’s armor, it is from the outside. The best possible way to beat them is sag on the inside and make them hit the outside shot all night. Oh, and if you can get Cauley-Stein in foul trouble it would help as well.
Michigan State knows it has its shortcomings. Izzo’s group of Trice, Valentine and Branden Dawson has its flaws, but their fighting spirit cannot be measured. The team is a terrible free throw shooting team and has little overall depth, which could hurt late in games.
Wisconsin, with Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, has two players that were preseason All-American selections. Traevon Jackson the sixth man is coming into his own after being sidelined with injuries.
The backcourt for Wisconsin is likely its weakest link with Josh Gasser and Bronson Koenig. Kentucky’s Harrison twins along with Tyus Ulis are all former McDonald’s high school All-American and a much more dynamic set. If they are able to have their way against the Badgers, Wisconsin will once again lose another national semifinal.