2012 NCAA Men's Final Four logo2012 NCAA Men's Final Four

NCAA Final Four 2012 Predictions: Matchups That Will Determine Winners

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 31:  Anthony Davis #23 of the Kentucky Wildcats dribbles the ball during 69-62 win over the Louisville Cardinals at Rupp Arena on December 31, 2011 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IMarch 29, 2012

You can talk all you want about the X's and O's of the game, but the NCAA tournament ultimately comes down to matchups.

Will that inconsistent point guard step up, or will his crafty opponent take him out of the game? Will that underdog's protector in the paint be able to stack up with the unstoppable superstar? Will that red-hot freshman overtake the more talented NBA prospect?

Here's a look at the matchups that will determine the Final Four winners.

 

Chane Behanan (F, Louisville) vs. Terrence Jones (F, Kentucky)

On a low-scoring Louisville team, Chane Behanan has been a pivotal player. The Cardinals may be known more for their defense, but without some semblance on offense they wouldn't be in the Final Four.

Behanan has played beyond expectations in the NCAA tournament, averaging 14 points and 7.7 points while going a collective 23-of-36 from the floor (63 percent). Against Florida in the Elite Eight, Behanan posted 17 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and a steal. Not bad for a freshman.

Behanan will likely be matched up against Kentucky's Terrence Jones. Jones has become a more disciplined and heady player this season, particularly in the NCAA tournament. Labeled as immature in his freshman season, Jones has worked hard to shed that tag. He's basically been the Lamar Odom of the tournament—scoring, passing, rebounding and using his length to create problems on defense.

If these two were matched up last year, I could see Behanan actually outplaying Jones. But Jones has brought it all together in the tournament, and I see him continuing his hot streak.

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 25:  Terrence Jones #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts against the Baylor Bears during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball South Regional Final at the Georgia Dome on March 25, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Gorgui Dieng (C, Louisville) vs. Anthony Davis (F, Kentucky)

Gorgui Dieng has been a big part of Louisville's defense this season and has been a difference-maker with his rebounding and shot-blocking in the NCAA tournament.

The sophomore has 13 blocks in four tournament games, and he's averaging 8.0 rebounds on the big stage. He had nine rebounds and seven blocks against Draymond Green and No. 1 seed Michigan State in the Sweet 16.

But, against Anthony Davis of Kentucky, Dieng has an entirely different monster on his hands. Davis is the likely No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft this year. He has the explosiveness to simply overtake Dieng. I would like to see Dieng, as an underdog, surprise Davis defensively, but the reality is, nobody can really stop Davis this year.

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 25:  Anthony Davis #23 of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts against the Baylor Bears during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball South Regional Final at the Georgia Dome on March 25, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Tyshawn Taylor (PG, Kansas) vs. Aaron Craft (PG, Ohio State)

I would like to see Kansas make it to the national championship game because I think Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey at least give the Jayhawks a chance against Anthony Davis and Co. But I think point guard Tyshawn Taylor will struggle against Ohio State, and that will ultimately be the difference.

Ohio State's pesky Aaron Craft is the type of defender nobody wants to face. He's averaged 2.5 steals this season for the Buckeyes, and he's constantly pressuring the ball and making life miserable for opposing point guards.

Taylor's consistency, or lack thereof, bothers me. Until his Elite Eight performance against North Carolina, Taylor was virtually non-existent in the tournament. He's had several instances this season in which he's unraveled.

Craft is the last guy Taylor wants to face. Taylor does have star power, but matched up against a ball hawk like Craft, I see him struggling and having a rough go against Ohio State's swarming defense.

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 22:  Justin Jackson #5 of the Cincinnati Bearcats fights for the loose ball against Aaron Craft #4 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during their 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball East Regional Semifinal game at TD Garden on March 22, 2012 in Boston,
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

 

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