Saturday, April 01, 2006
And by Great Disappointment, I don't mean the wrong prediction from the Millerites.
I'm talking, of course, about the competitiveness of the two Final Four games. After an incredible first 4 rounds that ranked up there with any other tournament ever, we expected more of the same from the Final Four. Did it turn out that way? Not so much.
The final tallies had Florida beating George Mason 73-58, and UCLA beating LSU 59-45. The winners of the games were exactly who I thought they'd be, but I expected the games to be a lot closer, as did everyone else. This sets up a UCLA vs. Florida matchup on Monday night for the National Title.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to watch the second half of the George Mason/Florida game, but it doesn't appear I missed too much. Looking at the box score, a couple of things jump out at me. So far in this tournament, George Mason has rebounded very well, even outrbounding Connecticut, and they have shot the ball well. Today, Florida outrebounded George Mason by 11, and as far as outside shooting goes, it wasn't even close. Florida was 12/25 from behind the stripe, and George Mason was 2/11. Unfortunately, it's time for Cinderella to go back to cleaning the house.
In the other matchup, I expected a defensive battle, but only 45 points for LSU? It almost seems like a typo, but that's how good UCLA was. It's almost mind-boggling how well they are playing defense right now, and they scored enough for the win. If they can get another 17 and 9 game from Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, well, they're darn near impossible to beat.
As I thought/hoped on the defensive end, UCLA forced LSU to make outside shots, and they did not. In fact, they were 0/6 from 3-point line, and everyone except Darrel Mitchell (who was 0/3 from the outside) didn't even want to take the shots. "Big Baby" was solid with 14 and 7, but Tyrus Thomas was a non-factor. As I thought, his half-court game is not quite there yet, and this was made painfully obvious after he went 2/4 with 5 points in 17 minutes.
This sets up what should be a great battle on Monday night. Florida is like LSU in that they have great big men, but they also have good outside shooters and like to get out and run some more. UCLA will be the best defensive team that Florida has faced all year. Early SportsNation voting is making UCLA the favorite. My pick? You'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out!