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We are down to 2 teams, one game, with The National Championship to be won tonight by one of these teams. Who would have thought that Butler would be back to the final game after their improbable run last year, the run this year is even more impressive, after losing Senior Guard -Forward Gordon Hayward , an NBA Lottery pick in 2010?
The main reason in my opinion that they have made it this far again, is coach Brad Stevens, who in my opinion, is the best “in game” coach in Division 1 College Basketball. Obviously, a team does need one or two pretty damned good players, and Butler has them in 6’8 Senior Forward Matt Howard, and 6’3 Junior Guard Shelvin Mack. Let’s not forget 6’0 Junior Guard Ronald Nored, who will likely be given the task of guard the Uber talented 6’1 Junor Guard Kemba Walker. Howard and Mack will play their normal solid game on the defensive end, and I expect Howard especially to be very physical, as he has been tournament long.The Keys for Butler to win this game will be 1. The defensive play of Nored. He is about the same size and quickness as Walker, and he needs to play physical on Walker. 2. Howard needs to stay out of foul trouble and not get plagued with the kind of fouls that hurt him and his team earlier in the year. 6’11 Sophomore Center Andrew Smith will need to be huge in this game fro Butler to win. At 240 pounds, he is not very big, but he is long and can grab those tough defensive rebounds needed for Butler to win. Smith, also like Howard earlier in the year, was plagued with foul troubles. Butler needs Smith as well to stay out of foul issues.. The Xfactor is 6’7 Freshman Forward Khyle Marshall. This guy is talented, long, can crash the boards, get his own shot. He might have the most potential NBA talent on the court, but he is a freshman, and once again, freshmen in these tournaments can either be great for games, or krap out and make a ton of mistakes under the pressure and the moment, if they let it get to them. This is why we always here how important Senior leadership is
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This is familiar terrority for Jim Calhon, having already 2 National Championships to his credit, so we all know he can coach. We all know Kemba Walker is a dynamic quick guard who can penetrate off the dribble, who also can dish to his teamates on the wing for good 3 point looks, and plays good defense.. Expect Walker to have a good game, but maybe not great, since Nored matches up very well with him. 6’5 Freshman Guard Jeremy Lamb has been inconsistent in this tournament, as is some times the case with freshmen playing in their first NCAA Tournament.. He is long and athletic, and a very good rebounder for his size. His shot though is again, inconsistent, so if he has a big effort, that should put Uconn over the top in this game for the win. The Real huge key for Uconn though is 6’9 Sophomore Forward Alex Oriakhi. If this guy crashes the boards hard like he normally does, then it is game over and Uconn wins.
As well as Brad Smith coaches, Uconn is the most talented team Butler will face to date, and in College Ball, in one game, I will take The Talent, especially when Jim Calhoun has shown he is a pretty good coach as well. Butler does have the experience factor going for them, and they are more physical than Uconn. Depending on the refs, how they call the game, will be a big factor here. If they let them “play”, Butler can pull off the upset here. If not, Uconn will win.. I picked Uconn before the tournament started to win it all, and I am sticking with that pick. I would really love to see Butler win, so I hope I am wrong, but I don’t think so.
Prediction; Uconn by 11, 68-57
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