There's just one more game to be played, and hopefully it's much more competitive and thrilling than last night's semifinals. Florida has been the most impressive team in the tournament. All 5 starters are scoring in double figures, something that made them tough to beat in the early part of the year. Taurean Green is taking care of the ball and making good decisions, he and Lee Humphrey are making perimeter shots, along with Corey Brewer, who is the x-factor with his all-around play. And no one has had an answer for Noah and Horford inside, who continue to amaze with their ability. They can finish inside, rebound, and help bring the ball up against pressure. The Gators' quickness, along with their 3 point shooting, beat George Mason. The Gators were quicker to the ball, giving them more chances to score on the offensive end, which they took advantage of. George Mason wasn't as mentally sharp as they had been, repeatedly leaving Humphrey open for 3s, which he made. But Florida presents major matchup problems for anybody, which is why they're in the finals.
Then there's UCLA, who's had the tougher road. After beating Belmont, they've had to beat Alabama, Gonzaga, Memphis, and LSU, all good teams. They have a great mix of experience and youth, inside and out. MBah a Moute is a good looking freshman, a great athlete with a nice touch to go with great defense. Ryan Hollins has stepped up despite being hurt, becoming a force inside. Afflalo is the x-factor offensively, he can get his own shot whenever he wants. And Farmar makes it all go, he played very well Saturday night, getting the ball up the floor to his finishers and he made some shots. UCLA has the versatility and depth to match Florida at every position. I like UCLA tomorrow night. Florida hasn't seen a team like this in the tournament yet; I think UCLA will be able to guard them, then get the ball inside and get Florida's bigs in foul trouble. Florida isn't a very deep team. When they go to the bench, they don't go to it for extended periods of time. They might have to tomorrow night, which would be to UCLA's advantage.
So we've hit that point in the year where baseball begins tomorrow (boooo), but it's Masters week. Professional hockey and basketball will begin postseason play soon. But they won't be able to possibly match the month of March. 26 of the 62 games have been decided by 5 points or less or have gone to overtime, 2nd most in the tournament's history. CBS, for now, is keeping the 1st-3rd round games archived on their website, so I think I'll go back and watch some of those. I watched Albany/UConn this afternoon. What an effort by Albany, and what a lack of effort by UConn.
Anyway, I thought it'd be fun to go back and look at what I wrote about this year. And that means going back to last April after last year's tournament. I haven't looked at that since, this could be interesting.
- UConn was my preseason #1, a no-brainer. I thought Hilton Armstrong would be the key, and he greatly improved his game, becoming more assertive. But this team plays with no effort and they don't look like they're coachable. How many of these guys will be back next year?
- Then came Kentucky. UK wasn't as hungry as I thought, Rajon Rondo appeared to be somewhat uncoachable as well, although it didn't help that Randolph Morris was unavailable for half of the year (and shouldn't have been able to come back, sorry Tubby, I don't believe that fax was in your desk all along).
- Villanova was next, and even without Curtis Sumpter, they more than held their own. They were followed by UNC, of which I thought a couple of guys would've stayed, specifically Felton and Williams. But they still had a good year and Tyler Hansbrough was probably Freshman of the Year.
- Duke rounded out the top 5, followed by Oklahoma and Texas. For Oklahoma, Drew Lavender transferred, making their guard play more of a question mark, which ultimately cost them.
- Rounding out my top 10 were Wake Forest, Michigan St., and West Virginia. I thought Chris Paul would come back, and if he did, they would've been pretty good. Michigan St. never acquired the toughness a Tom Izzo team usually does, they have to be disappointed.
- No mention of Florida or UCLA by the way haha.
Here are my Sweet 16 and Final 4 from October:
- Louisville. Well haha, they didn't make it. I think one thing that hurt them was being ranked so high in the preseason. They were ranked 4th going to Kentucky, way too high for them and UK blew them out. They were never the same after that.
- Kentucky. Again, Rondo didn't play up to his potential, Morris wasn't available for half the year, and they weren't great shooters and didn't have the size to make up for it.
- Memphis. Check.
- UCLA. Check.
- Maryland. Still no point guard.
- Syracuse. They went as far as their junior class took them, I was right about that. They lost in the 1st round after Gerry McNamara was too hurt to carry them any further.
- Indiana. I thought Mike Davis did pretty well, but not good enough for the IU folks. If DJ White would've been healthy, they could've won the Big 10.
- Nevada. Well, they had a great year, but fell victim to the 12/5 bug, losing to Montana in the 1st round.
- NC State. They started off great, then struggled late. They bowed out in the 2nd round and Herb Sendek is now the new coach at Arizona St., tired of dealing with the crazy Wolfpack supporters who are seem to be never satisfied.
- Iowa. Well, I was right about them late in the year haha.
- Arizona. Not enough perimeter shooting.
- Boston College. Check. So I got (counting my Final 4), 6 right, whoooaaa.
- Texas. Just not deep enough and too soft inside, especially vs. LSU in the regional final. Daniel Gibson had a good year, but not the year I thought he would have.
- Duke. Redick and Williams were huge, but the supporting cast couldn't make shots vs. LSU.
- Michigan St. I'm tried of talking about how disappointing they were.
- Villanova. My pick at the beginning of the year and at the end. They played tough, you couldn't fault their effort. Florida was just too much for them.
I'll keep going down memory lane as time goes on. But for now, it's time to start getting ready for the NFL Draft extravaganza with my buddies in Cincinnati. I bought my Draft guide today, it's time to start studying. But after tomorrow, there's still one more game left to be played. Just a little more Madness, is that ok?!?!?!