This is a really interesting Final Four. Obviously Florida has the chance to achieve something unusual if they pull off two wins. Other than Duke's 91-92 titles, not many other teams have won back to back. San Francisco did with Bill Russell of course, but Russell's teams always won. And UCLA won back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back plus a few others tossed in during the Wooden era.
To do it, Florida will have to beat UCLA, and while Wooden's career is long over, UCLA is a very tough bunch under Ben Howland. They're a superb defensive team, and in the conservative game tournaments force, defense is a good starting point. It's a mandatory starting point, really. But Florida is good pretty much everywhere, although they have developed a bad habit of falling behind. Butler gave them fits, and if they'd had some more size might have won that game.
Everyone is picking Florida in this one, but we haven't been entirely sold on the Gators. Are they really good? Hell yes. Do they at times take a while to show up? Yes. This is normally a fatal trait.
And if they beat UCLA, they get the winner of Georgetown-Ohio State. In their early-season matchup, Florida crushed Ohio State, 86 -60. Greg Oden, still working his way into the lineup, had seven points, six boards, and foul trouble kept him out of 12 minutes of the game.
We admire Georgetown's poise and heart, and that comeback against UNC was remarkable. But Ohio State has shown a really strong will, and these guys are capable of coming back on just about anyone. They're also capable of dominating just about anyone. The Oden-Roy Hibbert matchup has drawn a lot of interest, but while Hibbert at this point is more skilled, Oden is capable of otherworldly play, as his huge block against Tennessee showed. If you missed it, you missed a visual example of exactly how a big man can completely change a game. He really got up for that block. We've seen people like Patrick Ewing, Ralph Sampson, and David Robinson do it, but otherwise, it's been awhile. Oden is insanely talented.
That foul trouble thing is a big problem, though, and since Georgetown makes a living cutting to the basket, he'll be under the gun. The Buckeyes can win without him - they've had to - but they'll really need him full-time now.
Given UCLA's defense, and their desire to make up for last year's loss, and Florida's tendency to fall behind, we'd rate this one a tossup. But we'll take Ohio State over Georgetown, partly because of Oden, but also because Mike Conley has been sensational, and because this team plays like one which doesn't really think it can lose.