2011 Final 4 Prediction Kentucky Wildcats @ Connecticut Huskies: More than a few people are disappointed with the Final Four. No 1-seeds, no awesome teams, just flaws and plenty of them with Butler and VCU the main culprits. But Kemba Walker was one of the best players in all the land all season long, a guy that no opponent wanted to see with the ball in the waning seconds of a close game – the kid is a winner, what makes college basketball great. Kentucky is full of stellar freshmen that took a little longer than expected to mature, but just in the nick of time, they certainly have. The NBA is scouting them plenty, you’ll see a few Wildcats playing for big money in the years to come.
Whomever wins this game is certainly the favorite to win the Championship, and that makes sense. These are both major players from the power conferences, and they have more NBA talent, a pedigree of winning, and two coaches that have years of experience on this stage, experience that the youngsters just don’t have. But who’s going to win this game?
Kemba Walker has been amazing, and it’s tough to bet against him. He’s willed his team to victory more than a few times, and this tournament has been his playground. But I see Kentucky’s full starting line-up as a difficult match-up for Walker and company. Kentucky is tough in the post, they have elite athleticism all over the floor, and with Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones, they have two freshman that are only getting better. I’d love to see Walker win another game, but my money’s on Kentucky.
(4) Kentucky Wildcats (-2) @ (3) Connecticut Huskies (8:49 PM EST) (CBS)
VCU Rams @ Butler Bulldogs 2011 Final Four Free Pick: My favorite stories are VCU and Butler, the two tiny programs with young coaches changing the make-up of college basketball, and I love it. Just like the rest of the world has been catching up to Team USA in the Olympic games, the smaller programs are catching up to the big-time schools in college basketball – and for the same reasons, team unity, craftiness, and knowledge of their schemes. Instead of being dominated by NBA-talent freshmen, both schools have their share of battle-tested upperclassmen. And as a coach, and one of the biggest fans of the game there is, I love it.
Both of the coaches in this game are great, and as Shaka Smart has his guys playing as good as anyone in the country. But for Butler to get here two seasons in a row, that’s a fine indication of how good Brad Stevens is. Rarely does any team make it to back-to-back Final Fours, but the fact that Stevens did it with Butler, when maybe his best player (Gordan Hayward) leaving after last season for the NBA, it’s flat out amazing.
However, I have to go with VCU in this one. They’ve been playing better basketball than anyone in the tournament, and one of these times Butler isn’t going to make that shot at the end to win the game. VCU continues to ride their hot streak on way to the NCAA Championship Game.
(11) VCU Rams (+2.5) @ (8) Butler Bulldogs (6:09 PM EST) (CBS)