Pallotto’s Final Four Preview

Bret Pallotto
Sports Editor
bmp6070@lhup.edu

 

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adweek.com

The Final Four is set for this coming weekend in Indianapolis, and is looking like one of the best Final Four’s in recent memory.

Three No. 1 seeds (Kentucky, Wisconsin and Duke) and No. 7 seed Michigan State will all be in action at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday.

The No. 1 overall seed, Kentucky, has managed to stay unbeaten at 38-0 throughout the tournament, even after surviving a scare from No. 3 seed Notre Dame, and walking out with a 68-66 victory.  The Cats will take on fellow No. 1 seed Wisconsin, from the west region, in the second game of Saturday night’s doubleheader.

Wisconsin defeated No. 2 seed in the west, Arizona, on Saturday 85-78, behind 27 points and five rebounds from Sam Dekker.  Dekker has been on a tear throughout the tournament, especially in the west regional final.  Dekker averaged 25 points per game in two games against North Carolina and Arizona.

The matchup of Kentucky and Wisconsin is a rematch of last year’s Final Four, a game in which Kentucky defeated the Badgers 74-73.  Aaron Harrison hit a deep three from NBA range with 5.7 seconds left.

It is a very intriguing matchup, with the nation’s most efficient offense in Wisconsin, against the nation’s No. 1 defense in Kentucky.

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Tom Izzo, who will be coaching in his seventh Final Four matchup, led his Spartans to a 76-70 victory over Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals. Coach K, who is coaching in his 12th Final Four, holds a career mark of 8-1 when coaching against Tom Izzo.

Duke defeated the No. 2 team in their region, Gonzaga, in the Elite Eight to reach the program’s 16th all-time Final Four appearance. Justise Winslow, a native of Houston, was one of four Blue Devils to reach the double-digit scoring mark. Jahlil Okafor was the only starter to not reach double-digits (nine points) and the bench did not score a single point.

The two schools played in the Champions Classic earlier this season and Duke came out on top with a 81-71 win. Michigan State made three more shots from the floor, but Duke made their money at the charity stripe. Duke was 20-26 and Michigan State was only 6-10.

An unbeaten.  The all-time coaching wins leader.  A coach who has put together the best coaching work of his career.  And a team looking for their first national championship since 1941.

If this Final Four is half as good as it looks, we will all definitely get our money’s worth.

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