Saturday, April 05, 2008

Final Four Preview: Kansas vs North Carolina

Oh this couldn't be scripted any better! OleRoy vs his old team! The drama is lessened a bit because it's five years now, and the Kansas players are Self's guys, not Roy's. Roy had a sneak preview of this type of thing when his team squared off against David Padgett and Louisville in the Elite 8. Roy had a short conversation with Padgett after the game - caught by TV the cameras. Just the images, not the conversation mind you :)

The Roy vs Kansas factor
The Alamo Dome is a big place, and I'm sure there will lots of fans from both sides. Will the Kansas fans boo Roy every chance they get? And if they do, will that cause a reaction from the UNC fans? Will we have a circus show in the stands? And even if we do, will that affect the game in any way? Fans are supposed to be loud and going crazy at a Final Four setting to begin with :)

Game-wise, we don't think this will really be much of an impact. Once the ball is tipped, it's a game, the competitive juices are flowing, and it's about beating the other team. Remember, this is different from Roy Williams going up against Dean Smith - that Coach vs Coach, this one is Coach vs Other Team.

We don't think it will be a factor in the game, but it will definitely be a factor in the discussions of pundits, analysts, experts, bloggers, barber shop goers, and basketball fans in general.

Depth vs Depth
Both teams are loaded, although perhaps not as loaded as you may think, considering the injuries of Lodrick Stewart and Bobby Frasor. But they both have quality game-changing performance depth, players that would start on just about any other team in the country even!

Sharron Collins could be what wins the game for Kansas and Danny Green what wins the game for UNC. They obviously play different positions but their impact is similar! Both teams should devise defensive schemes to limit their impact on the game, because if they don't, either one can start an offensive (or defensive) avalanche.

Since there are so many factors in the game, the winner of this battle does not necessarily mean their team wins the game, but it's definitely a very helpful thing to have in your plus column.

Also of impact, especially if there are foul troubles are Chaka Khan (Sasha Kahn), and Alex Stepheson (who most play-by-play guys confuse with Deon Neon Thompson for some strange reason). Not necessarily because they have a 20/10 performance, but for defense, rebounding, screens, and doing all the little but important things a team needs from its big guys to win.

It may be the that Jeremy Case finds himself on the court a little bit more, while Q (Quinton Thomas) will get his minutes backing Lawson and also trying to defend the Kansas perimeter starters.

Burger vs Burger
These teams are loaded with talent! They have Mcdonalds, Roudnball, and Jordan Classic stars all over the place! They are bluebloods with capital A baby! (Okay, capital B).

The perimeter will be an interesting Burger battle, where the versatile trio of Russell Robinson, Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush take on beep-beeper Tywon Lawson, Wayne Ellington (now with defense) and Marcus Ginyard (winner of the Jackie Manuel award of defense).

The players are versatile enough that just about anyone could guard anyone and perhaps the coaches will adjust the matchups based on how the game flows and which players are having good offensive and defensive days. We'll probably not see Brandon Rush on Lawson, but perhaps we may see that too if Self wants to have a "blanket Lawson" strategy where he throws every player at him, hoping he can get the best defensive effort out of each player, while at the same time not wearing down an individual with a 24x7 Lawson task.

The Front Co(ur)t
Oops, there's no Pitino, so no need for Pitino-speak. It would be a master of the obvious point to point out the significant of defending and containing Psycho-T. Will Bill Self try to contain him or shut him down? Will be gamble on Hansbro and make the perimeter guys beat him? Or will he go for a more balanced defensive approach? We don't know!

Carolina's best defense is their offense, even though they are a better defensive team now than they were in December. This team has indeed shown some game-pressure onions during the ACC season and the post-season. At least so far. They didn't crumble when the Pitino Birds made a strong comeback in the second half.

Shady may present a matchup problem for the TarHeels, as none of their three bigs are slim and shady enough to chase Arthur on the perimeter all game long. But OleRoY is lucky, he can try Danny Green and Marcus Ginyard on him too. Don't be surprised if we see those two guys at the 3/4 spots, and Roy goes for a smaller and faster line-up, just like he did in the Louisville game.

Meanwhile Neon Deon Thompson's trademark bank shot may be what decides the game. If Kansas does the best they can to take out Hansbro and the perimeter guys, Thompson could have a field day hitting those makeable (for him) shots. Bookmark this prediction!

Other Previews
There are plenty of final four previews online, here is a sample of them: Storming the Floor, Slam Online, SI's Luke Winn, and Jocks vs Geeks. No, we did not make up the last website name, it's for real :)

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