Here we are, and although I probably should have made this Thursday, all of my Final Four picks won (although Louisville blurred the line between winning and losing). However, as I travel from Columbia, MO back to Beloit, WI for spring break, I have some time to kill, and what better way to do this than preview my Final Four and predict my champion? So, without further ado (I say that a lot on here), let's preview my Final Four.
Final Four: (1) Florida, (2) Wisconsin, (4) Michigan State, (4) Louisville
Here's just a reminder of who I selected as my Final Four candidates. Florida will take the South Region over Syracuse, Wisconsin over Arizona in the West, Michigan State over Villanova in the East, and Louisville takes care of Michigan in the Midwest.
So let's preview my projected Final Four games.
Game 1: Florida vs. Michigan State
Florida has been on a year recently. As I have stated before, Florida went undefeated in the SEC, and hasn't lost since they lost to UCONN on December 2nd, 2013. Florida has one of the most potent offensive attacks in Scotty Wilbekin and Michael Frazier III at the perimeter and Casey Prather inside. They are led by one of the best coaches in the entire nation in Billy Donovan.
Michigan State finally has every starter back for them. They are led by Adreine Payne inside and a trio of Keith Appling, Gary Harris, and Travis Trice outside. Tom Izzo has never failed to lead every group of seniors to at least one Final Four, and I think he does it again this year. On paper, this is a top-5 team nationwide.
I really like Michigan State in this game. Michigan State is just too strong inside and I think Florida can be exposed inside. I think this opens up opportunities outside for Appling, Harris, and Trice. I think Michigan Sate comes our on top.
Prediction: Michigan State 78, Florida, 69
Now, let's preview the other Final Four matchup between Louisville and Wisconsin.
Game 2: Wisconsin vs. Louisville
If you have been watching college basketball, then you would know that this is no typical Wisconsin team. Unlike years past, Wisconsin actually has a fantastic offense. Every starter can shoot the 3 effectively (the worst 3-point shooter is Dekker, at 32%). However, this is Bo Ryan's worst defensive team since 2006 (currently ranked 59th in adjusted defense).
Louisville on the other hand, is ranked in the top 10 in both Adjusted offense and adjusted defense. Led by Russ Smith, this team can shoot effectively from anywhere. On top of that, Louisville plays tough man-to-man defense that can stop anybody. However, they haven't played many teams. They played Cincinnati (who lost to Harvard Thursday) twice this season. Outside of that, they haven't played many quality opponents...
...and I think that makes a big difference. In a game where both teams are about equal, I think Wisconsin is more battle-tested, especially through the Big Ten and it's non-conference schedule (vs. Florida, @ Virginia, vs. Saint Louis on a neutral court). I like Wisconsin to pull out the W (no pun intended).
Prediction: Wisconsin: 82, Louisville: 77
This leaves an all Big Ten showdown between Michigan State and Wisconsin.
Championship Game: Michigan State vs. Wisconsin
I think this game goes down to the wire. I think Wisconsin can beat Michigan State and avenge it's loss in the Big Ten semifinal.
However, I don't think it is going to come to fruition. I think Michigan State has more talent, and I believe that Michigan State has too many weapons and will incinerate Wisconsin's 59th-ranked Defense. Wisconsin will score enough points to make it close, but Michigan State is to much in the end as Tom Izzo cuts down the new in Arlington
Prediction: Michigan State: 76, Wisconsin: 73