Thursday, March 17, 2011

The 2011 4 Quarters Bracket Entry: The Final Four

(For how we got here, check yesterday's posts.)

It comes down to Ohio State, San Diego State, Pitt, and Purdue. I'll bet a bunch of you already think you know how this movie ends. Well, you probably don't. Read on.

#1 Ohio State v. #2 San Diego State: The most critical player in this game isn't Sully or Diebler or Leonard or's David Lighty. Lighty can guard anyone from point guards to power forwards, and he may get a shot at anyone in this game who has the hot hand. I have it here that he contains Kawhi Leonard, and the Aztecs' front line gets the kind of kick in the teeth that it didn't get anywhere else in this tournament. OSU by 11.

#1 Pitt v. #3 Purdue: There are no words to describe how reluctant I am to put Purdue anywhere past the Sweet 16. Over my 32 years, I've seen much better Boiler teams than this one stumble somewhere along the way. It just seems that the matchups sit up well...until we get here. There have been several games this season where guys like Ryne Smith, D.J. Byrd, John Hart, or some combination thereof have attempted to shoot the Boilers right out of contention. Even against bad three-point defending teams like Michigan State, Purdue's been bitten by these high-risk shots, and it seems like the kind of game where even JaJuan might try to step out to escape McGhee and Taylor's bulk. This time, the shots don't fall. Pitt by 12.

National Championship:
#1 Ohio State v. #1 Pitt: So, here you go, Big East fans. You can hang your hat on Pitt and say, "See? Our conference isn't overrated." This could be a great title game if neither side stops to say, "Whoa. We're here." OSU has three freshmen dragging them here and Pitt's been a perennial tease, so for both teams, being starstruck is a distinct possibility. Both these teams can hit threes, but they don't overly rely on them. Both are rugged on the boards. For me, the big difference is the Pitt defense. A 17.9% turnover rate places their defense 295th in the country, going against an offense whose 15.6% rate ranks sixth. If the Panthers were to harass Aaron Craft into some mistakes, this game would be a thriller, and Pitt would become a solid favorite. But, if Craft does start having problems, Thad Matta won't hesitate to let Lighty run the point to staunch the bleeding. Lighty wins Final Four MOP and... Ohio State by 5.

There it is. Yeah, I gave it to a conference rival. Sue me. The sweet consolation is that Sully won't be there next year. Sadly, neither will JaJuan and E'Twaun.

Well, time to fill 'em in. Gotta go.

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