Final Four predictions
No sense in changing my pick now. I had Florida to repeat as champ when the NCAA tournament began two weeks ago, and I've got the Gators to win now. They're in for a stiff test against UCLA, a rematch of last year's title game. The Bruins play some of the best defense in the country and have one of college basketball's best players in Arron Afflalo, but Florida is too deep inside with Joakim Noah and Al Horford playing at such a high level.
Georgetown impressed me with its unbelievable length after seeing the Hoyas up close in the second round. Jeff Green plays so under control and Pat Ewing Jr. has improved so much since his days at Indiana that it's hard to pick against the Hoyas. But I'm going to do just that, sticking with Ohio State (I had the Buckeyes losing to Florida in the finals in my colleague Dana Gauruder's pool) to advance.
The OSU-Georgetown game comes down to two things in my mind. One, can Mike Conley get penetration? Ty Lawson was largely ineffective last Sunday against the Hoyas, almost scared to go inside because of their tremendous size. Ohio State gets in trouble when it becomes too dependent on the 3-point shot, so Conley must stay aggressive. The second deciding factor will be foul trouble, specifically big men Greg Oden and Roy Hibbert's ability to stay out of it. On this stage, no official wants to become the story so Oden and Hibbert should get some leeway early. If either picks up a cheapie or two (and my money says Hibbert does) that's a plus for the other team.
Four more prognostications for the week ahead:
1. Michigan will come to terms with its next basketball coach by tip-off Monday, but won't introduce Tommy Amaker's successor (sure smells like John Beilein) until Wednesday.
2. Former Birmingham Detroit Country Day star Alex Legion won't be pleased with the choice and will beg out of his letter-of-intent and eventually sign with ... Florida, which will lose its entire starting five (plus recruit Alex Tyus) once Billy Donovan bolts for Kentucky.
3. Donovan will accept the Kentucky job next week for a whopping annual salary of $5 million a year. Quickly, the Wildcats return to their perch as kings of the SEC.
4. Rumored Kentucky candidate Tom Izzo has his contract tweaked to include a slight bump in guaranteed money (say $2.25 million with another $750,000 in bonuses) and the go-ahead to finish his Breslin Center locker room project in time for next basketball season.