Tag Archive: Houston


The Final Countdown!


Uconn is going to need Kemba's leadership and last second heroics just one more time tonight in the National Championship game

The day has finally come! The National Championship game tonight between The Butler Bulldogs and Uconn Huskies.  I was unable to watch the Final Four games because I had a fraternity thing I had to be at.  I’m also supposed to be playing in an intramural basketball game tonight…yeah right! I picked these two teams to win to set up this match up last week.  I explained why I thought they were going to be successful and I plan to make my prediction for tonight’s soon to be National Champion.

I like both of these teams.  Both teams are in the championship for a reason.  Butler got off to a slow start at the beginning of the season but have really shown up ready to play and have taken care of business every night come tournament time.  Uconn is on one of the most exciting runs I’ve ever heard of.  They have won 10 straight games all coming during the Big East tournament and now the NCAA tournament.  I think tonight’s match up will be a great one to watch.

I’ll start with Uconn.  Uconn, as mentioned above, is on an incredible 10 game winning streak.  I like Kemba Walker and the way he can win games with last second shots.  The only thing that really worries,and not all that much,  me for Uconn is how many games they’ve played in the last couple of weeks.  Yeah they’ve had some time off and time to recuperate but, from what I’ve been told by respected sources Uconn seemed a little tired against Kentucky in the Final Four.  I wasn’t concerned about that earlier in the tournament and here’s why.  They’re a bunch of 18-22 college students! I’m a college student and I played varsity football for 4 years.  I knew how to prepare my body for competition and these athletes have many more resources than I ever could have dreamed of.  Still this is only a minor concern.  With Jim Calhoun’s coaching ability, Walker’s ability to hit big shots, and Jeremy Lamb stepping up I think Uconn will be difficult to beat tonight.

Howard's hustle and playmaking will be much needed in tonight's National Championship game

Surprisingly I like Butler tonight.  There’s something special going on in that Butler locker room.  This team has NCAA tournament experience and the hunger to keep winning.  Not only that, they have one of the most intelligent young coaches in the game today.  Brad Stevens has a very close relationship with his players, I mean for goodness sakes they only have 8 players on the squad!  He knows how to get his guys ready to play and how to keep them composed. You can see that his players want to win just as much for Coach as they do for themselves.  I’ve played for a coach I respected and loved and it’s totally different than playing for a coach you could give to squats over a toilet about.  You play harder, you’re focused, and you hustle much more.  Like I said, there’s something special going on in that locker room.  Let’s not forget to mention Butler making their second straight appearance in the National Championship game. They lost last years championship game by only a few inches! They have that hunger, that passion, and the fuel needed to win a National Championship. I’ve mentioned Butler’s composure and I think they’re late game execution shows that.  Winning close games is in the Bulldogs’ blood. I also think Shelvin Mack will have another big game to help propel Butler to their first National Championship!

Regardless of who wins tonight it should be a very good game.  Both teams are deserving to be where they are and both deserve to be the National Championship.

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There’s a lot of excitement and anticipation building up for this weekends games.  Everyone wants to see the game between VCU and Butler and most forget that Uconn and Kentucky are still even in the tournament.  Unfortunately Jim Calhoun and his Huskies are being put in the shadow this weekend.  His star Kemba Walker has earned himself as much attention as his heart could ever desire with the way he has played this season.  His last second heroics have made him a finalist for the Naismith Award (National Player of the Year).

Kemba looks to stay hot during the Huskies run to the National Championship

Fortunately for John Calipari him and his team are also in the shadow because of the other Final Four game.  I find it strange that Calipari’s last two Final Four appearances have been wiped from the record books for NCAA violations.  Could this be his third strike? Only time will tell and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.  Regardless of whether or not each team deserves to be in this game because of codes of ethics or what not it’s sad to say that most viewers (besides Uconn and UK faithful) of the Final Four this weekend are only watching simply to see who will play the winner of the VCU/Butler game, which coincidentally is played before the Uconn/UK game.

I have a few thoughts on this game though.  I’m actually looking forward to what the experts are calling the “Goliath” match up.  Not to take away from Butler or VCU but I think this will be a better basketball game. I could be wrong though, as I have been many times in my life.  But, I think watching a combined seed total of 7 (UK=4, Uconn=3) will be much more enjoyable than watching the 11 seed VCU face up against the 8 seed Butler.  Colin Cowherd of sportsnation put it like this, and on this rare occasion I agree with him, “Everybody says they love the Cinderella story but, the day after the game ratings are terrible”.

As for the Uconn and Kentucky game, I think it’s going to be awesome.  I thought Kentucky was going to be beat easily against Ohio State and their bigs played one hell of a game.  Though VCU has been surprising I’m just as surprised by Kentucky.  I didn’t think the SEC this year was worth a darn but here are the Wildcats ready to battle the Huskies.

Even though Calipari figuratively has two Final Four appearances Jim Calhoun has much more tournament experience.  I think Calhoun’s experience mixed with Kemba’s dominance aided by freshman Jeremy Lamb will be unstoppable.  Uconn is currently on a 9 game winning streak.  What’s more surprising than that is all these wins have come during the Big East tourney and the NCAA tourney.  Against quality teams.  The NCAA tournament isn’t necessarily about whose the best team in the nation. It’s about whose the hottest team in the nation and right now I think it’s no doubt that Uconn is the hottest team (though some would argue VCU is).  I see the Huskies continuing their winning streak and making it to the National Championship game.

 


This tournament has been nothing short of ridiculous.  I’m not very old but I don’t remember ever seeing so many upsets not only during the tournament but during the regular season.  Which makes me wonder.  It’s the game of college basketball becoming watered down or are the players becoming that much better? Making the game much more competitive? I’ll go with the latter.

Personally, I’m not  a fan of this year’s tournament.  I also think it’s fair to say that Ohio State was the most consistent and dominant team and was eliminated in the Sweet 16.  Pittsburgh could also be argued to be the best team in the nation winning the Big East outright which was considered the best conference this season in basketball.  These two teams are no longer in the field of 5 (Kentucky and UNC are currently playing for the 4th spot in Houston).  I’m all about upsets but not this many. Seriously who wanted to watch Richmond vs. Morehead State? Or even 11 seed VCU vs. 10 seed Florida State in the Sweet 16? I’m all for Cinderella teams but not 4 Cinderella teams.

Another thing that has made this tournament less enjoyable is the pathetic excuse of refereeing.  I know it’s a tough job but let’s get real here.  These are supposed to be professionals.  I’ve seen so many missed or bad calls this tournament to make up a lifetime.  I know that if I make that many mistakes I’m fired and no longer have a job. I like to watch good basketball and solid refereeing is a huge part of a good basketball game.  Crappy refereeing = crappy/sloppy basketball from one team making the games usually lopsided.  Overall, the calling of these games has been less than acceptable.

After the second round (field of 64) I knew not to be surprised by who won and who lost. Yeah all these upsets are good for ratings and possibly for the game but, I’m having a hard time accepting that the way the tournament has played out.

Anyway, Congrats to Uconn, Butler, and VCU for making it to the Final Four and congrats to whoever wins between Kentucky and North Carolina.


Ohio State has hands down been the most consistent and dominating team all season.  Only slipping up to two tough Big Ten teams during the regular season.  Both losses were on the road at Wisconsin and at Purdue.  However, when they played these two teams at home both margins of victories were 20+ points.  That’s impressive.

David Lighty and Jon Diebler have had the hot shooting hands since the Big Ten tournament.  With Aaron Craft at the point distributing the ball to these two guys and Jared Sullinger Ohio State is a force to be reckoned with.  There’s not much that hasn’t been said about the Buckeyes this year and I have to agree with all that’s been said.  I dogged these guys late in December saying they would fall off once Big Ten play started but they shut me up quickly.  I have nothing but respect for this team.

Sullinger (0) and Buford (44) are the Buckeyes two leading scorers this season

Sullinger is leading the team with 17.2 ppg as a true freshman on the Big Ten regular season Champion team and the Big Ten Conference tournament Championship team.  The kid is a monster.  Just like Kansas he has a great supporting cast in William Buford, second on the team in scoring averaging 14.4 ppg.  I’ve already mentioned the likes of Jon Diebler and the hot hand of David Lighty.  These guys can score and shoot lights out on any given night.  I don’t have the numbers and couldn’t find them but I would guess they have the best shooting percentage of any team remaining during tournament play.

Not only can these guys score but they get after it on the defensive end.  Good old fashioned Big Ten basketball.  You have to love it.  They’re scrappy and in your face.  Their hardwork and focus is a complement to their talent.  I’ve always lived by the saying that, “Hardwork beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”.  Well good luck beating talent that does work hard.  Thad Matta has gotten his team to hit on every cylinder so far in this year’s tournament (all year for that matter) and I expect them to continue to do so.  I don’t see Kentucky being able to pull of the upset but they’ll give the bordering Buckeyes a good game.  To be honest I don’t see Marquette or UNC giving Ohio State much of a fight either. Once Ohio State gets by Kentucky it should be an easy Elite 8 game to advance to the Final Four.

Something to keep in mind.  Back in December I heard some “experts” talking about how Sullinger has given his word that he’ll play at least 2 seasons at Ohio State.  If he gets to the title game and even wins a national championship it could be the end of a beautiful relationship between Sullinger and the Buckeyes.  Just something to keep in mind.

To wrap it up I have my Final Four looking like this.  Ohio State meets the Uconn Huskies  in Houston while the Kansas Jayhawks face off with the Butler Bulldogs! There you have it folks.  I hope my picks have peaked your interest and I thank you for reading my posts!

–Ryan K.