Saturday, April 4, 2009
Washburn's Final Four Picks
(2) Michigan State vs. (1) Connecticut at Ford Field in Detroit (UConn by 4) So the Spartans ruined my bracket and made it all the way to Detroit, a mere 90 minutes from the East Lansing campus. You have to give credit to Tom Izzo, this Michigan State team may not have an NBA first-round pick on its roster and yet it continues to knock off more talented teams as Sunday, when Louisville looked lost and uninterested in a 64-52 decision. The Spartans play great defense, but the one thing I noticed is that they hit every big shot to beat Louisville. They were 8-for-16 from the 3-point line and got 19 points and 10 rebounds from Goran Suton. That won't happen against Hasheem Thabeet, although I am not so sure Thabeet needs to bolt UConn for the NBA Draft in June.
The Huskies won't take Michigan State lightly as Louisville did and the home-court advantage won't be much of a factor. Remember, North Carolina dismantled the Spartans in the same arena in December. Look out for Jeff Adrien, a grown man in the paint, to have a big game and lead UConn to the national title game. UConn 68, Michigan State 59.
(3) Villanova vs. (1) North Carolina (UNC by 7 1/2) The Wildcats could be a team of destiny but it's a stretch to compare them to the '85 bunch that beat Georgetown in one of the bigger upsets in sports history. The Tarheels are playing like a national championship team, breaking down Oklahoma with relative east last weekend. North Carolina is an elite team with Ty Lawson at point guard, so much so that Tyler Hansbrough (above) was the fourth option. That is depth. And while Villanova won't go down easily, the North Carolina players remember how terrible they played in the first half last season against Kansas in the national semifinal. Scottie Reynolds and Dante Cunningham will need to replace Gary McClain and Ed Pinkney as far as heroic efforts to push the Wildcats to the title game, but they will fall short. North Carolina 71, Villanova 66.