Monday, March 26, 2007

Final Four at a Glance

By Bruin Basketball Report

Four of college basketball's heavyweights clash in the Final Four of the NCAA men's basketball tournament in Atlanta.  In one semifinal game, the Florida Gators match-up with the UCLA Bruins and in the other contest Ohio State meets Georgetown.

After losing three of their last four regular season games, the Gators rebounded to sweep through the SEC conference tournament and appear to be back on track to defend their NCAA title. 

Florida returns all five starters from their championship squad but don't appear to be taking any of the remaining games for granted.

“I don’t think your past equals your future." Gator Coach Billy Donovan said. "Last year’s game was already played. Last year is over"

Gator center/forward Joakim Noah is not taking UCLA lightly or their tournament appearance for granted.

“We’ve played UCLA before, but they have different personnel." Noah said. "That’s the thing about the tournament though. On any given night anyone can beat you. It doesn’t matter if you are the better team or not.  If you have an off night, you’re going home and your season is over.”

The Bruins have flexed their muscles in the tourney, defeating tough-minded defensive teams in Indiana and Pittsburgh and then out-playing an athletic Kansas squad.  Against Florida, UCLA needs to keep up the intensity and aggressiveness if they expect to advance to the title game again.

In the Ohio State and Georgetown game, the country gets to watch two giants do battle in the middle as the Buckeyes' 7'0 280lb Greg Oden and Hoyas' 7'2 278lb Roy Hibbert face off on Saturday. 

The freshman sensation Oden arrived at Ohio State amid a lot of hoopla, and for the most part has met all expectations. While the junior Hibbert started the season as a work in progress, but has improved logarithmically becoming one of the most dominant big men in college this season.   

Both teams have faced a tough road in getting to the Final Four.  Ohio State beat Xavier in overtime and then had to rally from a 17 point deficit to defeat  Tennessee in a Sweet 16 game.  While Georgetown had to survive a tough Vanderbilt game and then ran away from No.1 seed North Carolina in overtime to advance to Atlanta. 

A glance at the Final Four teams.

No. 1 Florida Gators (33-5), SEC

Road to Final Four
Def. Jackson State (112-69), Def. Purdue (74-67), Def. Butler (65-57), Def. Oregon (85-77)

Probable Starters
F-Corey Brewer (Jr, 6'9, 185), F/C-Joakim Noah (Jr, 6'11, 232), F/C-Al Horford (Jr, 6'10, 245), G-Lee Humphrey (Sr, 6'2, 192) ,
G-Taurean Green (Jr, 6'0, 177)

Key Reserves
F/C-Chris Richard (Sr, 6'9, 255), G-Walter Hodge (So, 6'0, 170), F-Dan Werner (Fr, 6'7, 235)

No. 2 UCLA Bruins (20-5), Pac 10

Road to Final Four
Def. Weber State (70-42), Def. Indiana (54-49), Def. Pittsburgh (64-55), Def. Kansas (68-55)

Probable Starters

F-Josh Shipp (So, 6'5, 220) F-Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (So, 6'8,
230), C-Lorenzo Mata (Jr, 6'9, 240), G-Darren Collison (So, 6'1, 170),
G-Arron Afflalo (Jr, 6'5, 215)

Key Reserves
F/C-Alfred Aboya (So, 6'8, 235), G/F-Michael Roll (So, 6'5, 200), G-Russell Westbrook (Fr, 6'3, 190)


No. 1 Ohio State (34-3), Big 10

Road to Final Four
Def. Central Conn. State (78-57), Def Xavier (78-71), Def. Tennessee (85-84), Def. Memphis (92-76)

Probable Starters
F- Ivan Harris(Sr, 6'7, 220) C-Greg Oden (Fr, 7'0,
280), G-Ron Lewis (Sr, 6'4, 230), G-James Butler (Jr, 6'2, 205),
G-Mike Conley Jr (Fr, 6'1, 180)

Key Reserves
G-Daequan Cook (Fr, 6'5, 210), F-Othello Hunter (Jr, 6'9, 225), G-David Lighty (Fr, 6'6, 220)

No. 2 Georgetown (30-6), Big East

Road to Final Four
Def.Belmont (80-55), Def. Boston College (62-55), Def Vanderbilt (66-65), Def. North Carolina (96-84)

Probable Starters
F-DaJuanSummers (Fr, 6'8, 241), F-Jeff Green (Jr, 6'9, 235), C-Roy Hibbert (Jr, 7'2, 278), G-Jonathan Wallace (Jr, 6'1, 188),
G-Jessie Sapp (So, 6'3, 205)

Key Reserves
G-Ewing (Jr, 6'8, 238), G-Jeremiah Rivers (Fr, 6'4, 205), F-Vernon Macklin (Fr, 6'9, 227)



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