March Madness 2011 Predictions: Power Ranking the Final Four Teams
We are finally down to the Final Four, and we have four great teams heading to Houston, where the 2011 NCAA Division I men's basketball champion will be crowned.
Huge upsets happened in both the Southwest and Southeast regionals with VCU and Butler advancing past No. 1- and No. 2-seeded teams respectively.
The combined seeding number of Butler and VCU (19) is the highest to ever meet in a Final Four, even higher than the George Mason-Florida Final Four matchup (14) in 2006.
With all the excitement and surprises that have happened thus far in the tournament, who knows what to expect for the final three games?
We know that a No. 8 or No. 11 seed will be in the title game against either UConn or Kentucky.
Here is a ranking of the four remaining tournament teams, along with a championship winner prediction.
4. Virginia Commonwealth Rams
VCU is one of only three teams to make the Final Four with a No. 11 seed, as George Mason (2006) and LSU (1986) did so as well. No other teams have ever made the Final Four with worse than a No. 9 seed.
VCU, which was criticized by analysts for even making the tournament, has already proven those critics wrong.
The Rams can show the critics up even more by going to the title game.
Jamie Skeen led the Rams to their improbable 10-point win over the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks.
VCU does not have any dominant players, but it is a very well-rounded team.
Teams, and the rest of the country, should not be taking the Rams lightly anymore.
3. Connecticut Huskies
At least one of the Big East teams showed up.
UConn has now won nine straight games in the past 19 days, including five wins in the Big East tournament.
The Huskies have shown that they are not just about Kemba Walker.
While Walker has been one of the best players in the tournament, the most important player on the Huskies may be freshman Jeremy Lamb.
Lamb has been unconscious in the postseason, averaging 16 points per game, which is over five points better than his regular-season average.
Kemba Walker is UConn's leader, but the Huskies have now shown the country that he is not the only one on the team.
2. Butler Bulldogs
When a team is a No. 8 seed and one of two Cinderellas left standing in the Final Four, that means the NCAA tournament has had a great few weeks.
The Butler Bulldogs advanced to their second straight Final Four, looking to avenge their championship-game loss last year.
Matt Howard may be one of the tournament's most underrated players. At the end of every game this tournament, Howard has had the ball in his hands and been the deciding factor in whether Butler advanced.
Shelvin Mack provides the team with steady offense and leadership as well. The duo of Mack and Howard combined to score 41 of the team's 74 points in Butler's win over Florida.
1. Kentucky Wildcats
Freshman sensation Brandon Knight shined in Kentucky's Elite Eight win over North Carolina, but he wasn't the only Wildcat who did well.
All five Wildcat starters reached double digits in points, as they paced Kentucky to a Final Four matchup against UConn.
Kentucky may be the most complete team left in the Final Four. Every one of its five starters can hurt a team on any given night.
Brandon Knight vs. Kemba Walker should be a great matchup. The game will come down to the rest of the starting fives though.
2011 NCAA Tournament Winner
Add me to the Cinderella bandwagon.
The winner of the Butler-VCU game will win the championship. No teams are playing better than these two.
They may not have the most talent on their rosters, but they play the best basketball together. They have two great coaches who their players believe in.
I give Butler the edge over VCU because of Shelvin Mack. Jamie Skeen vs. Matt Howard is a great matchup down low.
Butler gets back to the championship and wins it for Brad Stevens and company.