A look at the matchups in the Final Four Print
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Thursday, 02 April 2009 21:55
NCAAB Headline News

 DETROIT (AP) -A look at Saturday's games at the Final Four:
CONNECTICUT (31-4) vs. MICHIGAN STATE (30-6)
CONNECTICUT
ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR
M 92-66; No. 5 Purdue 72-60; No. 3 Missouri 82-75.
STARS
The Huskies' biggest star, literally, is 7-foot-3 Hasheem Thabeet, the Big East's co-player of the year and its defensive player of the year after averaging 4.3 blocks per game, second in the nation. His scoring average has increased in each of his three seasons, and he enters the Final Four averaging 13.5 points and 10.9 rebounds. Senior forward Jeff Adrien also averages a double-double at 13.7 points and 10.0 rebounds. Senior guard A.J. Price leads the team in scoring at 14.7 points per game, but he averaged 20.0 during the NCAA tournament.
COACHES
rial Hall of Fame in 2005, Calhoun is one of two active coaches with 800 wins, 557 of which have come in his 23 seasons at Connecticut. He missed the opening-round game against Chattanooga because of dehydration, then faced allegations of possible recruiting violations before the regional semifinals.
KEY POINT
The Huskies lead the nation in rebounding, grabbing 43.3 per game, and they average 7.8 blocks, which will have them No. 1 in the nation for the eighth consecutive season. Connecticut was ranked No. 1 for four weeks this season, and its only losses were to Big East teams. The four NCAA wins have been by an average of 17 points.
MICHIGAN STATE
ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR
No. 2 Michigan State beat No. 15 Robert Morris 77-62; No. 10 Southern California 74-69; No. 3 Kansas 67-62; No. 1 Louisville 64-52.
STARS
Sophomore guard Kalin Lucas, the Big Ten's player of the year, leads the Spartans in scoring (14.6) and assists (4.5), and he was fourth in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.19. Senior guard Travis Walton was the conference's defensive player of the year, and his best effort might have been holding Louisville's Terrence Williams to 1-for-7 shooting in the regional final. Senior center Goran Suton is averaging 14.3 points and 11.5 rebounds in the tournament and was selected the MVP of the Midwest Regional.
COACHES
ns in the Final Four for the fifth time, and they won it all in 2000. In his 14th season at Michigan State, his teams are known for their toughness on the boards and tenacious defense. With 335 career victories, Izzo is just five behind Jud Heathcote, his former boss at Michigan State.
KEY POINT
The Spartans have the ``home dome'' advantage with their campus about a 90-minute drive from Ford Field. Michigan State is No. 1 in the country in rebound margin, grabbing 38.8 per game, an average of 9.6 more than its opponents. The Spartans have fought through some nagging injuries all season; the one affecting them most right now is the broken nose suffered by Raymar Morgan in the regional semifinals. He wore a protective mask for one half against Louisville, a game in which he went scoreless, dropping his average for the tournament to 5.8.
THE SKINNY
Keep the kids away from the paint in this game with two of the best rebounding teams in the country going after missed shots and Connecticut trying to block everything Michigan State puts up. Connecticut has averaged 87 points in the tournament. Michigan State must control the tempo and not turn the ball over to keep that number down. Look for the Spartans to bring Suton outside to try and open things up inside.
THE PICK
of green in Ford Field won't be enough to keep it from improving to 4-0.
NORTH CAROLINA (32-4) vs. VILLANOVA (30-7)
NORTH CAROLINA
ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR
No. 1 North Carolina beat No. 16 Radford 101-58; No. 8 LSU 84-70; No. 4 Gonzaga 98-77; No. 2 Oklahoma 72-60.
STARS
Tyler Hansbrough, last season's consensus player of the year, was a first-team All-America this season after averaging 20.9 points and 8.1 rebounds. The senior holds every scoring record for North Carolina and the Atlantic Coast Conference. Ty Lawson was the ACC player of the year after running an offense that was second in the nation at 90 points per game. The junior point guard missed the ACC tournament and first-round NCAA game with a toe injury, but he won MVP honors in the South Regional after averaging 20 points and 6.7 assists while committing a total of two turnovers in the three games he played.
COACHES
Roy Williams is in his seventh Final Four and third with the Tar Heels. He led North Carolina to the national championship in 2005. Including his years at Kansas, Williams is the first coach to win at least one NCAA tournament game in 20 consecutive seasons. Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 2007, Williams joined Mike Krzyzewski and John Wooden as the only coaches to reach five Final Fours in an eight-year period.
KEY POINT
erybody back from the team that lost in the Final Four last season, a fact that had them a unanimous preseason No. 1 selection. They spent 10 weeks at No. 1, and all their losses were in the ACC. The worry over Lawson's toe injury is gone as he had the Tar Heels running and scoring as usual, while the defense was able to hold Oklahoma to 60 points in the regional final.
VILLANOVA
ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR
No. 3 Villanova beat No. 14 American 80-67; No. 6 UCLA 89-69; No. 2 Duke 77-54; No. 1 Pittsburgh 78-76.
STARS
Villanova really doesn't have a star, just a lot of really good players with six averaging between 16.2 points (Dante Cunningham) and 6.9 points (Reggie Redding). They all play defense, and three players have more than 100 assists. Scottie Reynolds is the go-to guy at the end of games. It was his driving shot with less than a second left that won the East Regional final against Pittsburgh.
COACHES
Jay Wright is not just the only rookie in the Final Four, he is the only coach here without a national championship to his credit. The win that got the Wildcats to the Final Four for the first time since 1985 was Wright's 300th in his 15th season overall and eighth at Villanova. He was selected the coach of the year in the Big East this season.
KEY POINT
to under 40 percent shooting overall and 29 percent from 3-point range. They're struggling from 3-point range, however, hitting only 29 percent, well below their 36 percent mark for the season. The lack of size, Cunningham is a 6-8 center, is made up for with the ability to constantly switch defenders to avoid mismatches.
THE SKINNY
Both teams want to run, but it would be to Villanova's advantage to try and keep the score as low as possible. The Tar Heels have a size advantage up front, but Villanova was able to negate that all season in the Big East. Avoiding turnovers will be the key for the Wildcats.
THE PICK
Villanova's stunning national championship run in 1985 has a lot of people thinking that could happen again. This Villanova team is better than that one, but this North Carolina team is playing as well as it has all season - good enough to move them to championship game.
 

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