Indy Final Four Features Three Top Seeds
By John Ventola
Kentucky proved they are not perfect while remaining unbeaten, Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker showed white guys can have game, three Duke freshmen continued to exhibit skill-sets every bit as impressive as that of the Wildcats highly acclaimed frosh class, and Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo’s adjustments and strategy again showcased why a team’s coaching talent on the sideline is just as important as its athletic ability on the court.
The Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight action in Cleveland, Los Angeles, Houston, and Syracuse results in a Final Four in Indianapolis that will feature three No. 1 seeds
(Kentucky, Wisconsin, Duke) and seventh seeded Michigan State. The four regional winners–and the teams they defeated in the Elite Eight round to move on in the NCAA tournament—revealed just how keyed in this year’s selection committee was to team strength.
The West (Wisconsin and Arizona) and South (Duke and Gonzaga) regional finals featured No. 1 versus No. 2 seeds, while the Midwest (Kentucky and Notre Dame) final had No. 1 against No. 3. Only the East regional did not go according to seeding. North Carolina State upset top seeded Villanova, and Michigan State topped second seeded Virginia in second round games. The Spartans went on to defeat third seeded Oklahoma, and best fourth seeded Louisville in overtime to get Izzo back to his seventh Final Four, the third in the past seven years.
Kentucky embarrassed West Virginia by 39 points before barely nipping a gallant Notre Dame squad to continue their unbeaten streak. The Irish led for most of the second half, but missed three free throws in the final minutes, and shot only four of 14 from three-point range. Aaron Harrison and Tyler Ulis hit key three pointers, Karl-Anthony Towns
delivered inside baskets down the stretch, and Harrison’s twin brother, Andrew, cashed in two free throws with six seconds left for the win. A frantic down court drive by Irish guard Jerian Grant was defensed well as seven footer Willie Cauley-Stein forced Grant to double pump and overshoot the potential game winner while falling out of bounds.
Dekker scored a career high 23 points and Kaminsky added 19 as the Badgers eliminated North Carolina, 79-72. The duo was at again as they combined for 56 points to lead Wisconsin over Arizona 85-78, and set up a Final Four rematch with Kentucky. The Badgers shot 79% after halftime and hit an amazing 10 of 12 three-point goals after intermission. Last season Kentucky defeated Wisconsin on a late three pointer by Aaron Harrison.
It marked the second consecutive year Wisconsin beat Arizona in a regional final to advance to the Final Four. Badger boss Bo Ryan continues to get great play out of his post players and has squads that always play solid defense. This year’s Badger team is also one of the country’s most efficient offensive squads, and should prove to be a tough foe for super talented Kentucky.
Duke mentor Mike Krzyzewski will bring his twelfth Duke team to the Final Four, tying
him with legendary UCLA coach John Wooden for most Final Four appearances. The Blue Devils beat Utah as the Utes concentrated on consensus Player of the Year Jahlil Okafor , double and triple teaming him most of the game . Fellow freshmen Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones combined with Quinn Cook and Matt Jones to pick up the drop off in point production as Okafor deftly found his teammates for open shots.
Krzyzewski combined the effort of his star players with a little good fortune to beat talented Gonzaga, 66-52, in the South final. With 4:48 left in the game and Duke leading 53-51, Zag big man Kyle Wiltjer missed a wide open shot under the basket. The missed attempt seemed to take the air out of the Zags as they scored only one free
throw the rest of the way. Gonzaga did not make a field goal in the last six minutes, and after shooting at a 40% clip from three-point range for the season, shot two of ten for the game.
Michigan State, down 40-32 at intermission, used some Izzo halftime adjustments and good fate of its own to advance over Louisville in overtime, 76-70. The Cardinals Mangok Mathiang only had to hit two free throws with 4.9 seconds left in regulation to send Rick Pitino’s group to another Final Four. He made the first, but missed the second. Regulation ended tied at 65-65. With the reprieve, the Spartans dominated the extra period, and crushed the dreams of many in the Bluegrass state wishing for a Final Four final of Kentucky against Louisville. Izzo and his defense held Louisville to five field goals in the second half.
Duke beat Michigan State 81-71 in November in the third game of the season for each team. A Krzyzewski-Izzo coached game always makes for interesting viewing.
The teams are set, and while most are already salivating over an expected Kentucky and Duke matchup in the finals on Monday, April 6th, Big Ten teams Wisconsin and Michigan State will attempt to bring home the second major sports championship (Ohio State’s CFP football title) of the year for the conference.
March Madness moves on to April with four survivors. Do not expect the intensity and madness of collegiate basketball to lessen in any way. Awe-inspiring talent and excellent coaching will be on display at this Final Four.Thanks For Visiting JV Sport Shots .Com’s Website And Viewing Our Latest Blog(s) / Page(s). We Would Really Appreciate It If You Would Leave Us A Comment Or Remark Below. This Helps Us Provide Great Sports Content; You Would Like To See In Future Posts.
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