Friday, March 30, 2007

So What's Gonna Happen Tomorrow?

Hell if I know. Of course, I actually did pretty well on my selections, getting three of the Final Four participants correct, and I may have been an Acie Law IV layup away from having all four. I also correctly picked U$C to beat Texas, and UNLV to beat Wisconsin, which were among the larger upsets I got correct (at least by perception).

But honestly, I'm not terribly optimistic about UCLA's chances versus Florida. Keep in mind, people who know me will tell you that I'm a pessimist by nature, and images from last year's game are still stuck in my mind.

There are two players that I see holding the keys for their respective teams. For the Gators, it's Corey Brewer. The Bruins have played enough teams with good big men that I think they neutralize Horford and Noah. But Brewer is a big time matchup problem with his size, quickness, and ability to play on the perimeter as well as slash to the basket. And while it may look like Horford and Noah just kill teams inside, it starts with the respect that teams have to pay to Brewer. Hopefully coach Howland has developed a strategy to prevent him from opening up the middle for the dunk fest that we witnessed last year.

For the Bruins, I think the X-factor is Josh Shipp, and seeing as how he's the only guy in the starting line-ups who played no role last year, I'm not really going out on a limb with that. But convential wisdom says that Brewer will guard Afflalo, and that leads Humphrey to guard Shipp. I think Josh Shipp can exploit that matchup. The question is, will he be willing to beat Humphrey and settle for mid-range jumpers. I think he can beat Humphrey, but Josh likes to go to the basket, and that's where he could run into trouble. I still have nightmares of the 2001 Illini losing to Arizona in the regional final, watching Frankie Williams and company getting swatted by Loren Woods again and again and again. If they had simply pulled up from five feet, the Illini would have rolled in that game. But I digress.

If Shipp has a good shooting game, the Bruins have an excellent chance to move on. Brewer is going to have to guard one of Shipp and Afflalo, and I think it give the other a big advantage that the Bruins will need to hammer.

I'm not going to pick against UCLA. I think this team can adapt to many different styles and still be successful. Witness their sweeps over both Arizona and Washington State this year. They'll play your game and beat you at it. But Florida is very good, and playing very well right now.

Either way, it should be a very entertaining game.

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