NCAA Final Four: Big East Redemption, Thy Name Is Connecticut Huskies
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With this improbable Final Four, the heroics of Brandon Knight has been well chronicled. He truly has been clutch and a stud.
He has also run the offense to perfection, which is why Kentucky is now favored to win the whole thing. VCU has stolen the hearts of basketball fans everywhere with their story of rags to riches, and now everyone in the country knows that Shaka Smart is the couch of Virginia Commonwealth.
Jamie Skeen has been an absolute beast for VCU and victimized every front line he played against so far in this tournament. He has been their rock. He is not a well kept secret anymore either. The sports community now wants to see how far he and his teammates can go.
Butler's Cinderella slipper doesn't fit them anymore, and they have handed those off to VCU. They are expected to show up, regardless of who they play and what conference they are from.
Many of the so-called experts are now predicting that Butler will not only beat VCU, but beat the winner of UConn and Kentucky. Shelvin Mack has been doing his mister big shot imitation the last two years in the tournament and looks unstoppable.
Butler has become one of the darlings of the media as they shift from mid-major underdog to Final Four favorite. We now look at them and expect them to come up with enough plays to win.
They won't be sneaking up on anyone any more. Just the name Butler will get coaches outside of their conference to spend extra time in the film room so their teams take them seriously.
What about Connecticut though? Why have most people just assumed that Brandon Knight and Kentucky will run rough shod over the Huskies? Why aren't they getting any love?
I think it is Big East syndrome. Everyone has bought into the idea that the Big East is over-rated, and truth be told, they have struggled in this NCAA tournament. Why?
We have to realize what type of conference the Big East is. They play a physical, grinding style of basketball. Don't get me wrong, teams like Syracuse and Connecticut can get up and down the floor, but most of the teams are built specifically for Big East play, not for the NCAA tournament.
Take a look at Louisville. They have no go-to scorer. Nobody on that team scared you on offense, but they pressed you all over the court and wore you down. They did it very well and won that way.
Syracuse was more athletic, but their big men were very physical. The same with Marquette. This wasn't a run and gun conference. You can argue that St. Johns got up and down the court, but physically they didn't back down from anybody, including Duke, when they totally gave them a New York beat-down earlier in the year.
We don't have to talk about how physical Pitt was (they didn't have a real go-to scorer either).
Their games are refereed with their physical nature in mind. You don't see too many ticky tack fouls being called, especially late in the game.
Connecticut is not only built for play in their conference, but they have the ingredients to be successful in the tournament as well. They have the unstoppable guard in Kemba Walker. They also have plenty of size on the inside, so they will not be overmatched there.
They have freshman wing players that are great on both ends of the floor. They are also not afraid and play with a lot of poise. Early in the season they crushed Kentucky, and even though this is a different time in the season, I don't think they will play a team that is better on defense than UConn.
If their game turns into a physical battle, it will be advantage Huskies. UConn will beat Kentucky because they are better, and most people are picking Kentucky. They will redeem the reputation of the Big East on the back of Walker and his mates.
They will follow that up with a victory on Monday night and cut down the nets.
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