You know, this hasn't really been the most gripping tournament in recent memory, but this weekend has been pretty good.
Thursday's game between Syracuse and Wisconsin was excellent; three of Friday's games were really compelling - IU-Kentucky, UNC-Ohio and State Kansas.
But Saturday's were the best so far.
Louisville finished off Florida with a 23-8 run (bad joke making the rounds: we all knew Rick Pitino could score in a hurry) when they were all but dead and buried, and then Ohio State took out a very admirable Syracuse team in what could have been a wonderful title game. It was that good.
No matter who wins Sunday, UNC or KU, the Final Four is assured of three dominant shotblockers.
Oh, wait, we're assuming Kentucky is in. Hold that thought.
We were surprised to learn that KU's Jeff Withey has considerably more blocks than does UNC's John Henson (126-100).
They're both pikers compared to UK's Anthony Robinson, who has 169 and Louisville's Gorgui Dieng has 123.
By the way, a surprising fact about Kentucky is that they really aren't that deep, with seven players getting virtually all the minutes, though six of them average double figures and you won't see that very often.
Despite all of that, it may still be that the best basketball player of the Final Four big men - not necessarily the most talented - is Jared Sullinger.
He's no shotblocker - he's only blocked 55 in two years - but he's much smarter on the court than Henson, Tyler Zeller, Wichey or arguably at least, Davis, who is the most promising talent.
The other guys, including Zeller, are taller and more angular. Sullinger is a load.
It'll be fascinating to watch UNC Sunday. The Ohio game showed that they are hugely reliant on Kendall Marshall. He practicedÂ Saturday for the first time post-surgery but did say that it still hurt.
If he does play, look for Kansas to force him to his right as much as possible.
One thing to keep an eye on: against State, Kansas went eight deep with their starters all pulling at least 31 minutes and point guard Tayshaun Taylor pulling 37.
Against Ohio, UNC's starters went 40, 38, 40, 41 and 32.Â The 40 belonged to Tyler Zeller; the 32 was Stilman White.
Justin Watts, PJ Hairston and James Michael McAdoo still provide a credible bench, but that's a lot of minutes.
To make life more interesting, Reggie Bullock apparently banged up his knee against Ohio.
Finally, we should mention the Roy-Kansas thing. Last time out, there was a lot of pent-up anger and Kansas just ate UNC alive. This time? That's dissipated. Still, beating Williams is likely to mean a lot and Kansas fans no doubt have been yearning this weekend for another whippping. The players are somewhat removed from it, but it's in the air. And it could cut either way.
As for Kentucky and Baylor, that's a really interesting matchup to us.
As we said, Kentucky's rotation is a bit shorter than one might expect from John Calipari, but Baylor comes at it with 10, really eleven players.
They have size too - Anthony Jones is 6-10, Perry Jones III is 6-11, Quincy Miller is 6-9 and Quincy Acy is 6-7. Guards Brady Heslip and Pierre Jackson are 6-2 and 5-10 respectively.
Kentucky has the edge in talent, but it may not be as big an edge as many people think.Â And while Kentucky has the better coach, the key player is not Davis but rather Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. This kid is on a different level competitively. Baylor has a reasonable shot at competing with Davis if only through numbers, but they will have a much tougher time controlling Kidd-Gilchrist. We can't express our admiration for him strongly enough. He's just a wonderful basketball player.
For some reason, though, we just get a feeling that after taking tons of criticism, this just might be Perry Jones' moment. He is as talented as anyone on the floor and call it a hunch, but we think he's due.
Duke Basketball Blue Book
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