Friday, April 1, 2011
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Clayton News Daily
Here is a look at the Clayton News Daily/Henry Herald Sports Staff's Final Four Predictions:
VCU-Butler: Butler went to the Final Four last year and is starting to build a little bit of a basketball tradition. VCU had to win a play-in game just to advance to the main bracket. Many skeptics felt at the beginning of the tournament VCU didn't even belong.
Kentucky-Connecticut: These two teams are loaded with basketball tradition. Kentucky coach John Calapari has compiled a 509-151 record. Although the NCAA stripped his teams of previous visits to the Final Four, his University of Massachusetts and Memphis teams also made it. Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun is 68 years old, but can flat out coach with a record of 853-367. He has led Connecticut to its second Final Four.
VCU-Butler: Yes, they belonged. Many questioned the NCAA selection committee for giving mid-major VCU an at-large bid. All the Rams have done is win their way into the Final Four. Butler was last year's tournament media darling, but now the Rams have taken that spotlight. The Bulldogs would love another shot at the national championship, but VCU has proven to be a tournament contender.
Kentucky-Connecticut: Some will probably say this is the real championship game because it features two teams from power conferences. Kentucky has restocked after several players bolted to the NBA after last season. UConn has been on a hot streak, and are trying to stay up with its acclaimed women's team. This will be a battle between two championship-caliber coaches with 'Cats emerging in what should be an instant classic.
VCU-Butler: The momentum has swung completely in VCU's favor. They have the media attention (just like Butler did last year), they have the hot coach in Shaka Smart (just like Butler's Brad Stevens was last year) and they have one of the tournament's most endearing players in Joey Rodriguez (just like Butler's Gordan Heyward last year). But they don't have the experience that Butler does, which gives the Bulldogs all the advantage they need.
Kentucky-Connecticut: The main event of the Final Four on Saturday has the best match-up: UConn's Kemba Walker vs. Kentucky's Brandon Knight. Both guards are fearless and have been unstoppable, but Walker has been more consistent, averaging 26.8 points in the tournament. It comes down to supporting casts, and UConn's has come up big every game. They will again.