Game 1: Ohio State 67, Georgetown 60
My three keys heading into the game:
1. How would the Buckeyes defend Jeff Green?
What happened? Take nothing away from David Lighty, who did an admirable job of defending the Big East Player of the Year, but the one nagging critique of Green came to fruition Saturday night. He was too passive on the offensive end, scoring only nine points on 4-for-5 from the field. Had he scored nine on, say, a double digit number of attempts, you could just say that he didn’t have it. Five shots? That just will not, and did not, get it done in the Final Four
2. How would Georgetown defend the three?
What happened? The Hoyas did a good job in limiting the Buckeyes from behind the arc, limiting them to 4-for-14 for the game. But when you go 7-for-21 from downtown like Georgetown did, the impact that the three-point defense has on the game is negated.
3. The Hibbert/ Oden matchup in regards to foul trouble.
What happened? Both players spent the majority of the game in foul trouble, with Oden being the first to hit the bench after two quick fouls to start the game. At this point the benefits of playing without the seven-foot freshman came into play, with the Buckeyes snapping off an 11-2 run in his immediate absence. Georgetown didn’t take full advantage of his absence on the offensive end, struggling to find answers against the smaller Buckeyes and their assortment of matchup zone defenses.
In the second half, Roy Hibbert went to the bench at the 8:50 mark with his fourth foul, and he was the Hoyas’ best offensive option to that point in the game. There was also a questionable blocking call on Jeff Green that would have given Oden his fourth shortly thereafter, but it just wasn’t meant to be for the Hoyas.
1. Jeff Green’s passive play on the offensive end.
2. Mike Conley Jr. (15 points, 6 assists) and David Lighty (5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals; good defense on Jeff Green)
3. The foul line (Ohio State: 13-19, Georgetown: 3-8)
Game2: Florida 76, UCLA 66
My three keys heading into the game:
1. Would Arron Afflalo have more success this year than last against Corey Brewer?
What happened? Brewer absolutely frustrated Afflalo in the first half on one end of the floor while scoring fifteen first-half points is what happened. Not to mention two quick fouls in the first two minutes of the game called on Afflalo. Had Josh Shipp not gone off for fourteen points in the first half, this one could have been one of the worst beatings in Final Four history. Arron ended up with seventeen on the night, but all of those points came in the second half, with the game pretty much being decided by the time he was able to make his first field goal. That moment came with about six minutes left in the game. Foul trouble robbed Afflalo of his time on the floor, but it was Brewer’s defense that ultimately did him in.
2. Could UCLA contain the Horford/ Noah/ Richard trio in the paint?
What happened? UCLA’s big three of Lorenzo Mata, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Alfred Aboya combined for fifteen points, ten rebounds and fourteen fouls. The Gator big men went for a combined thirty-three points, thirty-two rebounds and only eight fouls. This lopsided set of statistics go a long way in finding out why this game wasn’t too competitive in the second half despite UCLA having only three turnovers to the Gators’ sixteen.
3. Lee Humphrey and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute: which one would step up?
What happened? Humphrey was the better of the two role players tonight. In last year’s Final Four, Humphrey nailed multiple threes to finish off George Mason and UCLA early in the second half. Well, he did the same thing to the Bruins on Saturday, hitting two from downtown within the first three minutes of the second half to effectively end any thoughts of a Bruin comeback. Mbah a Moute, who has been troubled all year by tendonitis in both knees, just couldn’t give his team the spark they desperately needed. Two early fouls for him didn’t help their cause either.
1. Corey Brewer’s defensive effort on Arron Afflalo
2. Florida’s 42-25 rebounding edge, which helped negate sixteen turnovers
3. UCLA making only one more field goal than Florida, despite attempting nineteen more shots.
National Championship Game: Florida vs. Ohio State
Regular season: Florida won the December meeting between the two in Gainesville by the final of 86-60. Al Horford (ankle) and Greg Oden (hand) were both returning to floor after missing time because of injury. The game was tied at 40 with about twelve minutes to go in the game before the Gators closed it out with a 46-20 run.
My three keys to the game:
1. Can Greg Oden avoid foul trouble?
2. Will Taurean Green (three assists, four turnovers) play better than he did on Saturday night?
3. How much of a factor will the Gators’ experience be?