FINAL FOUR

All right, I have looked through every region of the bracket. I have given you my thoughts and now here we are, THE FINAL FOUR. 

Louisville is the most likely final four team. Their region is cake-walkish. Memphis is the best team in my book and I have them making it out of the West. They are in an extremely tough bracket but I like them a lot. The trouble in predicting is on the right side of the bracket, the South and the East. Pittsburgh is the best team in the East but I don’t trust Blair to stay out of foul trouble throughout the entire tournament. Duke could come through and beat them but they’ve been choking the last few years. UNC with a healthy Ty Lawson is a lock out of the South. However, Lawson is no lock to be healthy. If Lawson cannot regain his ACC Player-of-the-Year form then I like Gonzaga. But the champion will be Memphis regardless of who they face. They barely lost on a big shot by Mario Chalmers last year. This is their year. And consequently I’m calling it right now, MEMPHIS CHAMPS in 2009 AND NEXT YEAR in 2010, especially if John Wall declares for them. 😛

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SOUTH Region

South Region

Best Team: North Carolina Tarheels

Most Underrated Team: Gonzaga Bulldogs

Most Overrated Team: Oklahoma Sooners

Dark-horse: Arizona State Sun Devils

Best Coach: Roy Williams, North Carolina

Best Player: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma

Upset Special: Western Kentucky over Illinois

 

Summary:  A healthy North Carolina would be a heavy favorite here. Unfortunately for them their best player, Ty Lawson, is hurt with a toe injury. Lawsons biggest asset is his speed so a toe injury is even more damaging. The injury prognosis doesn’t sound good so I’m not very confident in them making it to the final four. The two seed is Oklahoma but I think they’re a little overrated. Blake Griffin is the best player and it’s not too close, especially with Lawson hurt. But they played an easy schedule and they don’t play defense very well. I don’t think they’ll make it to the final four either. After the Big East tournament everyones darling pick will be Syracuse. While they did a fantastic job and that six over time game was one of the best I’ve ever seen, they had a hugeeeeee home court advantage in the Garden. All that being said, who do I have making it then? My elite eight here is Arizona State and Gonzaga. Both teams are very well rounded and have some very good players. If you don’t know who James Harden is now… you will. I like the Zags to beat Arizona State and advance.

WEST REGION

WEST REGION

Best Team: Memphis Tigers

Most Underrated Team: BYU Cougars

Most Overrated Team: Maryland Terripins

Dark-horse: Purdue Boilermakers

Best Coach: John Calipari, Memphis

Best Player: Hasheem Thabeet, UCONN

Upset Special: Missippi State over Washington

 

Summary: This is easily the most stacked region this year. Each of its top 6 seeds have Elite Eight potential. UCONN and Memphis are both top five teams in the country. This should be the most entertaining region. The Memphis Tigers are my favorite here. And the reason is simple: Defense. The Tigers are the best defensive team in the country, and it’s not that close. They are four points ahead in defensive efficiency (points allowed per possession) than the second place team, Louisville. To put this in perspective it is the same difference between the tenth best team (Michigan State) and the thirty seventh best team (UCLA). Additionally, they are at least 3 points better than any team since 2004! This is an amazing defensive team. And defense wins championships. I have them playing an incredibly tough UCONN team in the Elite Eight. UCONN is the third best team but I think Memphis will beat them and advance to the final four. I put Maryland as the most overrated but I really don’t think anyone in this region is, this region is stacked with good teams. BYU is the most underrated team and could give UCONN and scare in round 2. If Purdue were in any other region I’d like them a lot, now that Robbie Hummel is healthy. As I said, Memphis advances here.

MIDWEST REGION

MIDWEST REGION

Best Team: Louisville Cardinals

Most Underrated Team: Utah Utes

Most Overrated Team: Wake Forest

Dark-horse: West Virginia Mountaineers

Best Coach: Rick Pitino, Louisville

Best Player: Terrence Williams, Louisville

Upset Special: USC over Boston College

 

Summary: Louisville are the Big East regular season and tournament champions. They have the best player in the region in Terrence Williams. They are also a very good defensive team, the second best nationally behind Memphis. Having Rick Pitino as a coach also helps. Perhaps the best reason I can say I have them going to the final four is the complete lack of competition they have in this region. To me, it’s easily the weakest region. The most underrated team is Utah. I think Arizona is certainly a tough matchup in round 1, it’s no given, but it certainly isn’t a lock win for Arizona as many “Experts” say. I also think it’s very likely they give Wake Forest a run for their money if they meet in the second round. Wake Forest is very young, inexperienced, and inconsistent and could lose to Utah. They will undoubtedly lose to Louisville. I like USC over Boston College as my upset special, though technically not much of an upset. If you want a surprise: I have West Virginia in the Elite Eight. I think they are the second best team in this region. In the end though, I don’t see Louisville being challenged.

EAST REGION

EAST REGION

Best Team: Pittsburgh Panthers

Most Underrated Team: UCLA Bruins

Most Overrated Team: Florida State

Dark-horse: Wisconsin Badgers

Best Coach: Coach K, Duke

Best Player: DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh

Upset Special: Wisconsin over Florida State

 

Summary: The Pittsburgh Panthers are the best team in this region. They also have the best player in the country in DeJuan Blair. The problem is if Blair gets in foul trouble. If Blair gets in foul trouble they can get beat by almost anyone (see Providence). Unfortuanately, you can’t really predict which game that will happen. They got a good draw with not much competition so it may not happen. The most overrated team here is Florida State. They barely beat a Lawson-less UNC and got crushed by Duke. I think Wisconsin will beat them in round 1. Xavier is also overrated and subject to upset. UCLA is easily the most underrated team in this region. ESPNs “experts” have caught the VCU over UCLA upset trend like the black death. I don’t think there’s any chance of that happening. UCLA is a better team than Villanova as well, and I’d favor them in a neutral situation. Unfortunately for the Bruins they have to travel nearly 3,000 miles to play Villanova at home. That is a really rough break. When it’s all said and done I like Pittsburgh to advance to the final four.

Denver Shopping Cutler?

http://myespn.go.com/blogs/afcwest/0-3-1666/Spurned-Cutler-wants-to-be-traded.html

So the Denver Broncos tried entering the Matt Cassel sweepstakes by dangling their Pro Bowl QB Jay Cutler. This has made Cutler mad and now he would probably like to be traded. 

I don’t know what Denver is thinking with this one. Jay Cutler is probably the most talented QB in the entire league, he can make every throw, he can carry a team on his back. He was frustratingly inconsistent last year (trust me, he was on my fantasy team). But it was only his second year in the starting gig and he had no running game. Veteran quarterbacks tend to struggle without any running support. And when you have to carry your team on your back and you are confident you can make every throw, you’re bound to make mistakes. 

 

Denver has done this before. Most people don’t know Denver once tried to replace a in-his-prime John Elway with Tommy Maddox. But at least in that case they kept Elway on the roster so when they realized their total failure, they could turn back. Cutler has Elway ability and if I were any team in the league I’d trade whatever the Broncos wanted for this guy.