The Pi-Rate Ratings

April 4, 2009

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Final Four: Semifinal Round–April 4, 2009

A PiRate Look At The NCAA Final Four

The Semifinals

 April 4, 2009

 

Ford Field: Detroit

 

Many basketball purists believe that the NCAA Tournament Semifinal is the top ticket in all of sports.  While we would argue that any ticket to a Green Bay Packers game would top it, this is the only time the top four teams in any sport meet on the same court back-to-back.

 

At Detroit’s Ford Field Saturday, there’s a good chance that the teams in the home uniforms will win more games in four hours than the regular tenant of the building won all season.  We know that’s a stab at the division rival Lions, but we had to do it.

 

For what it’s worth, our record through the first four rounds is 45-15.

 

Here is a guide for the two semifinal games.  We hope you have fun.

 

Note: Team info courtesy of the four schools’ official athletic websites

 

Game 1

Connecticut Huskies (31-4) vs. Michigan State Spartans (30-6)

Tip Time: 6:07 PM EDT

 

Rosters

 

Connecticut Huskies

 

NO NAME HT/WT POSITION YR/CLASS HOMETOWN

4

Adrien, Jeff 6-7/243 Forward SR Brookline, Mass.

24

Austrie, Craig 6-3/176 Guard SR Stamford, Conn.

55

Bailey, Kyle 6-3/170 Guard SO Lancaster, N.H.

2

Beverly, Donnell 6-4/190 Guard SO Hawthorne, Calif.

10

Bird, Johnnie 6-0/165 Guard SR Fort Bragg, N.C.

11

Dyson, Jerome 6-3/180 Guard JR Rockville, Md.

33

Edwards, Gavin 6-9/230 Forward/Center JR Gilbert, Ariz.

30

Haralson, Scottie 6-4/215 Guard FR Jackson, Miss.

13

Hornat, Alex 6-5/205 Forward JR South Windsor, Conn.

45

Lindner, John 6-5/265 Forward SR Cheshire, Conn.

32

Mandeldove, Jonathan 6-11/220 Center JR Stone Mountain, Ga.

35

Okwandu, Charles 7-1/255 Center SO Lagos, Nigeria

12

Price, A.J. 6-2/190 Guard SR Amityville, N.Y.

21

Robinson, Stanley 6-9/220 Forward SO Birmingham, Ala.

34

Thabeet, Hasheem 7-3/265 Center JR Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

40

Veronick, Jim 6-8/200 Forward SR Durham, Conn.

15

Walker, Kemba 6-1/172 Guard FR Bronx, N.Y.

 

 
Coaches
 
Jim Calhoun – Head Coach
George Blaney – Assistant Coach
Andre LaFleur – Assistant Coach
Patrick Sellers – Assistant Coach
Beau Archibald – Director of Operations

 

 

 

Michigan State Spartans

 

No. Name Ht. Wt. Pos. Year Hometown/High School

00

Ibok, Idong 6-11 260 C RS SR Lagos, Nigeria/Montverde (Fla.) Academy

1

Lucas, Kalin 6-0 180 G SO Sterling Heights, Mich./Orchard Lake St. Mary’s

2

Morgan, Raymar 6-8 225 F JR Canton, Ohio/McKinley

3

Allen, Chris 6-3 205 G SO Lawrenceville, Ga./Meadowcreek

5

Walton, Travis 6-2 190 G SR Lima, Ohio/Lima Senior

10

Roe, Delvon 6-8 225 F FR Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward

13

Thornton, Austin 6-5 210 G RS FR Sand Lake, Mich./Cedar Springs

14

Suton, Goran 6-10 245 C RS SR Lansing, Mich./Everett

15

Summers, Durrell 6-4 195 G SO Detroit, Mich./Redford Covenant Christian

20

Kebler, Mike 6-4 200 G SO Okemos, Mich./Okemos

22

Dahlman, Isaiah 6-6 200 G JR Braham, Minn./Braham Area

23

Green, Draymond 6-6 235 F FR Saginaw, Mich./Saginaw

25

Crandell, Jon 6-8 225 F JR Rochester, Mich./Rochester Adams

34

Lucious, Korie 5-11 170 G FR Milwaukee, Wis./Pius XI

40

Herzog, Tom 7-0 240 C RS SO Flint, Mich./Powers

41

Gray, Marquise 6-8 235 F RS SR Flint, Mich./Beecher

 

 
Coaches
 
Tom Izzo – Head Coach
Mark Montgomery – Associate Head Coach
Dwayne Stephens – Assistant Coach
Mike Garland – Assistant Coach
Jordan Ott – Video Coordinator
Richard Bader – Director of Basketball Operations
 

 

 

 

 

Player Matchups

 

Ppg=points per game, rpg=rebounds per game, bpg=blocks per game, apg=assists per game, spg=steals per game, fg%=field goal percentage, 3pt= 3-point percentage, ft%=free throw percentage, mpg=minutes per game

 

Point Guard

Connecticut: A.J. Price (6-2, 190 Sr.)-14.7 ppg/3.4 rpg/40.3% 3pt/71.2% ft/4.8 apg

 

Michigan State: Kalin Lucas (6-0, 180 So.)-14.6 ppg/2.2 rpg/38.8% 3pt/81.4% ft/4.6 apg

 

This position is the reason why both teams made it this far.  Both players are 4-star leaders.  Their stats are similar, but the differences are Price’s experience and the fact that he compiled these stats in addition to leading the Huskies while Lucas is more of the go-to guy.

 

We give a slight advantage to UConn here.

 

Shooting Guard

Connecticut: Craig Austrie (6-3, 176 Sr.)-7.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 80.5% ft, 2.3 apg

 

Michigan State: Travis Walton (6-2, 190 Sr.)-5.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.5 spg

 

While Walton is one of the top defensive guards in the nation, stopping Austrie won’t shut the Huskie offense down.  He should be able to supply extra help defense though, and that should make up for his inability to shoot from outside or at the foul line.

 

Austrie has had some hot nights, but that isn’t required of him for his team to make it to Monday night.

                                                                 

We’ll give an ever so slight advantage to MSU.

 

Small Forward

Connecticut: Stanley Robinson (6-9, 220 So.)-8.2 ppg/5.7 rpg/49.5% fg

 

Michigan State: Delvin Roe (6-8, 225 Fr.)-5.8 ppg/5.0 rpg/56.5% fg

 

This is a tough one to figure out.  Neither player plays consistently.  If both play a good game, it will be close to a wash.  Roe cannot hit the broad side of a barn from the foul line, but Robinson is basically an in-close shooter with no real range.

 

We’re going to call this one a stand-off but with high deviation.  Either player could have a big game or disappear.

 

Power Forward

Connecticut: Jeff Adrien (6-7, 243 Sr.)-13.7 ppg/10.0 rpg/50.5% fg/1.1 bpg

 

Michigan State: Raymar Morgan (6-8, 225 Jr.)-10.2 ppg/5.3 rpg/52.5% fg/1.2 apg

 

Morgan has not had a great game in March.  He is not a great defender nor a dominant rebounder for his position.

 

Adrien plays much like Wes Unseld used to play.  He stops the opponent in the hot shooting area, and he punishes any opponent who dares try to rebound the ball in his area. 

 

We’ll give UConn a hefty advantage here.

 

Center

Connecticut: Hasheem Thabeet (7-3, 265 Jr.)-13.5 ppg/10.9 rpg/4.3 bpg/64.9% fg

 

Michigan State: Goran Suton (6-10, 245 Sr.)-10.4 ppg/8.4 rpg/51.6% fg/

 

Both players are prone to getting into foul trouble, but Thabeet is the more likely to foul out of a game.  Thabeet is a Bill Russell type player.  Unless another Wilt Chamberlain is opposing him, he is going to dominate the inside-as long as he is in the game and not sitting on the bench with foul concerns.

 

Suton doesn’t have the flashy numbers of his adversary, but he is a workhorse inside and won’t back down to Thabeet even though he is giving away five inches.  Suton plays strong defense.

 

In a surprise, we’re going to call this one a wash.

 

Bench Play

Connecticut

Kemba Walker (6-1, 172 Fr. G)-9.0 ppg/3.5 rpg/74.6% ft/1.1 spg/2.9 apg/25 mpg

 

Gavin Edwards (6-9, 230 Jr. F/C)-3.9 ppg/2.9 rpg/63.3% fg/74.5% ft/12 mpg

 

Michigan State

Chris Allen (6-3, 205 So. G)-8.7 ppg/2.3 rpg/80.0% ft/19 mpg

 

Durrell Summers (6-4, 195 So. G)-8.4 ppg/3.3 rpg/21 mpg

 

Marquise Gray (6-8, 235 Sr. F)-3.3 ppg/2.9 rpg/58.7% fg/10 mpg

 

Draymond Green (6-6, 235 Fr. F)-3.1 ppg/3.2 rpg/53.3% fg/11 mpg

 

Connecticut basically goes just seven deep since Jerome Dyson was lost 24 games into the season.  The two bench players are better than any two bench players for the Spartans.  However, MSU has great depth.  The Spartans can wear down the best opponents and still have something in the tank at the end of games. 

 

Edwards may have to play serious minutes in the paint if Thabeet picks up too many early fouls.

 

We’ll call this a win-win comparison.  UConn has the better seven deep bench, but MSU has the better depth by far.  Overall, give a slight edge to the Spartans.

 

PiRate Criteria see articles from the week of March 16-18 for explanation of this statistical formula

 

Connecticut qualifies as one of the elite team with statistical data similar to many previous title holders.  Michigan State just barely fails to qualify with 7 total criteria points.  Of course, we must look at both strength of schedule and implied home court advantage.  MSU’s schedule was about two points per game stronger than UConn’s.  You can also add about three points home court advantage for the Spartans playing just over an hour away from campus.

 

Prediction

We are supposed to go with the criteria in virtually every game, and it would be hard to pick against Connecticut.  We think this is going to be a whale of a ball game.  Connecticut gives up just 37.6% shooting to opponents and blocks eight shots per game.

 

Michigan State gives up just 63 points per game and 41.4% shooting to opponents.  The Spartans are the dominant rebounding team in the land with an advantage of almost 10 per contest.  That advantage will be neutralized because UConn is just a hair behind at +9.2 per game. 

 

We expect the Huskies to stake themselves to the early lead and pad it a bit to the halfway point of the final period.  Then, the fatigue factor will begin to creep in.  At this point, Michigan State will mount a rally.  Connecticut will gain a second wind at the end and hold the Spartans at bay in the crucial time of this game.  Then, it will be up to the Huskies to hit their foul shots at the end of the game.  UConn hits 68% from the charity stripe.  It’s not great, but we believe Coach Jim Calhoun’s squad will advance to their third ever national title game.

 

Connecticut 67 Michigan State 63

 

 

Game 2

North Carolina Tar Heels (32-4) vs. Villanova Wildcats (30-7)

Tip Time: 30 minutes following the end of the

Connecticut-Michigan State Game

Approximately 8:47 PM EDT

 

Rosters

 

North Carolina Tar Heels

No. Name Ht. Wt. Pos. Yr. Hometown (High School)
1 Marcus Ginyard 6-5 220 G/F SR Alexandria, Va. (Bishop O’Connell)
2 Marc Campbell 5-11 175 G JR Wilmington, N.C. (Ravenscroft)
4 Bobby Frasor 6-3 210 G SR Blue Island, Ill. (Brother Rice)
5 Ty Lawson 5-11 195 G JR Clinton, Md. (Oak Hill Academy (Va.))
11 Larry Drew II 6-1 180 G FR Encino, Calif. (Woodland Hills Taft)
13 Will Graves 6-6 245 F/G SO Greensboro, N.C. (Dudley)
14 Danny Green 6-6 210 F/G SR North Babylon, N.Y. (St. Mary’s)
15 J.B. Tanner 6-0 185 G SR Hendersonville, N.C. (West Henderson)
21 Deon Thompson 6-8 245 F JR Torrance, Calif. (Torrance)
22 Wayne Ellington 6-4 200 G JR Wynnewood, Pa. (The Episcopal Academy)
24 Justin Watts 6-4 205 G FR Durham, N.C. (Jordan)
30 Jack Wooten 6-2 190 G SR Burlington, N.C. (Williams)
32 Ed Davis 6-10 215 F FR Richmond, Va. (Benedictine)
35 Patrick Moody 6-4 195 F SR Asheville, N.C. (T.C. Roberson)
40 Mike Copeland 6-7 235 F SR Winston-Salem, N.C. (R.J. Reynolds)
44 Tyler Zeller 7-0 220 F FR Washington, Ind. (Washington)
50 Tyler Hansbrough 6-9 250 F SR Poplar Bluff, Mo. (Poplar Bluff)

 

 
Coaching Staff
 
Roy Williams – Head Coach
Joe Holladay – Assistant Coach
Steve Robinson – Assistant Coach
C.B. McGrath – Assistant Coach
Jerod Haase – Director of Basketball Operations
Chris Hirth – Head Athletic Trainer
Eric Hoots – Video Coordinator
Jonas Sahratian – Strength & Conditioning Coordinator

 

 

Villanova Wildcats

 

No. Name Pos. Cl. (EXP) Ht. Wt. Hometown High School

0

Antonio Pena Forward RS SO (2L) 6-8 235 Brooklyn, N.Y. St. Thomas More

1

Scottie Reynolds Guard JR (2L) 6-2 190 Herndon, Va. Herndon

4

Jason Colenda Guard JR (1L)   205 Fairfax, Va. Bishop O’Connell

10

Corey Fisher Guard SO (1L) 6-1 200 Bronx, N.Y. St. Patrick’s (N.J.)

15

Reggie Redding Guard JR (2L) 6-5 205 Philadelphia, Pa. St. Joseph’s Prep

20

Shane Clark Forward SR (3L) 6-7 205 Philadelphia, Pa. Hargrave Military Academy

21

Maurice Sutton Forward/Center FR 6-11 215 Upper Marlboro, Md. Largo

22

Dwayne Anderson Guard/Forward SR (3L) 6-6 215 Silver Spring, Md. St. Thomas More

23

Russell Wooten Forward JR 6-4 210 Chula Vista, Calif. St. Augustine

24

Corey Stokes Guard SO (1L) 6-5 220 Bayonne, N.J. St. Benedict’s

31

Taylor King Forward RS FR 6-6 230 Huntington Beach, Cal. Santa Ana Mater Dei

33

Dante Cunningham Forward SR (3L) 6-8 230 Silver Spring, Md. Potomac

42

Frank Tchuisi Forward SR (3L) 6-8 215 Douala, Cameroon St. Benedict’s

 

 
Coaches

Jay Wright-Head Coach

Patrick Chambers-Associate Head Coach

Doug West-Assistant Coach

Jason Donnelly-Assistant Coach

Keith Urgo-Manager of Basketball Operations

Kyle Neptune-Administrative Intern

Jeff Pierce-Head Athletic Trainer

Lon Record-Strength Coach

 

Player Matchups

 

Point Guard

North Carolina: Ty Lawson (5-11, 195 Jr.)-16.3 ppg/2.8 rpg/54.2% fg/48.5% 3pt/81.5% ft/6.5 apg/2.0 spg

 

Villanova: Scottie Reynolds (6-2, 190 Jr.)-15.2 ppg/2.8 rpg/35.3% 3pt/81.7% ft/3.3 apg/1.6spg

 

What can’t Ty Lawson do?  He is the best outside shooter in the Final Four.  He can penetrate and either take it to the hoop or dish the rock for an easy shot.  He can play defense better than any other guard.  He can also shoot craps better than anybody on the Canadian-American border.

 

Reynolds is the reason VU made it this far.  It was his buzzer beater that knocked Pittsburgh out of the Dance.  He has a good offensive game, but he cannot handle Lawson.

 

North Carolina receives a huge advantage here.

 

Shooting Guard

North Carolina: Wayne Ellington (6-4, 200 Jr.)-15.6 ppg/4.8 rpg/48.0% fg/39.7% 3pt/77.8% ft/2.7 apg

 

Villanova: Reggie Redding (6-5, 205 Jr.)-6.9 ppg/5.0 rpg/70% ft/3.1 apg/1.2 spg

 

Ellington is a streaky outside shooter.  When his shot is falling, North Carolina cannot be defeated. 

 

Redding is VU’s defensive sparkplug who gives the Wildcats a fourth inside presence.  He had yet to meet an opponent as talented as Ellington though.

 

We give North Carolina the advantage here, but it is not strong.

 

Small Forward

North Carolina: Danny Green (6-6, 210 Sr.)-13.3 ppg/4.8 rpg/47.3% fg/41.5% 3pt/85.2% ft/2.8 apg/1.3 bpg/1.8 spg

 

Villanova: Dwayne Anderson (6-6, 215 Sr.)-9.1 ppg/2.8 rpg/46.0% fg/83.9% ft/1.4 apg/1.6 spg

 

Green can do a little of everything, but he isn’t a go-to player.  Anderson is similar to Green, just not as talented.

 

North Carolina has a small advantage here as well.

 

Power Forward

North Carolina: Deon Thompson (6-8, 245 Jr.)-10.7 ppg/5.8 rpg/49.8% fg/1.1 bpg/1.0 spg

 

Villanova: Dante Cunningham (6-8, 230 Sr.)-16.2 ppg/7.4 rpg/52.9% fg/1.2 apg/1.3 bpg/1.2 spg

 

Thompson is North Carolina’s least talented starter, but that is not a slap in his face.  He’s just not the star that the other four starters are.  There have been times when Thompson has come up with big plays.

 

Cunningham is Villanova’s key weapon.  As he goes, so go the Wildcats.  VU’s only chance at getting to Monday night’s game is for him to have a Danny Manning/Jack Givens moment.  We doubt that will happen, but he should have a good, if not great game.

 

Villanova has a decided edge here.

 

Center

North Carolina: Tyler Hansbrough (6-9, 250 Sr.)-20.9 ppg/8.1 rpg/52.1% fg/85.8% ft/1.2 spg

 

Villanova: Shane Clark (6-7, 205 Jr.)-5.6 ppg/3.8 rpg/48.0% fg

 

Clark is a hard-nosed defensive stopper, but he cannot stop his opponent.  The top relief pitcher in baseball couldn’t consistently keep Babe Ruth from hitting one into the seats, and that’s why it will take two or two and a half defenders to keep Hansbrough from beating Villanova.

 

Hansbrough is like a loyal employee who always shows up for work on time, always does his job as well as helping others, and never complains when he doesn’t get a raise.  He may not be the most naturally talented big man in Tar Heel lore (James Worthy-Sam Perkins-Tom Lagarde-Bob McAdoo, etc.)

 

North Carolina has a major advantage here.

 

Bench Play

North Carolina

Ed Davis (6-10, 215 Fr. F)-6.6 ppg/6.6 rpg/51.4% fg/1.8 bpg/19 mpg

 

Bobby Frasor (6-3, 210 Sr. G)-2.7 ppg/1.9 rpg/1.4 apg/17 mpg

 

Villanova

Corey Fisher (6-1, 200 So. G)-10.7 ppg/2.2 rpg/78.8% ft/2.8 apg/1.3 spg/24 mpg

 

Corey Stokes (6-5, 220 So. G)-9.5 ppg/3.4 rpg/84.8% ft/1.0 apg/23 mpg

 

Antonio Pena (6-8, 235 So. F)-5.3 ppg/4.2 rpg/48.5% fg/18 mpg

 

While neither team can go 10-deep, the reserves that do play are good enough to start for most teams.  In Villanova’s case, the two Coreys are really starters and not reserves.  They enter the game after the opening tip, but they play the bulk of the minutes at their positions.

 

North Carolina’s Davis is a future NBA player as soon as he can add some bulk.  Frasor is the type of pesty player who can stick the dagger in the opposing team with a well-timed trey after the defense has played competently for 25-30 seconds.

 

We’ll call this a wash.

 

PiRate Criteria

North Carolina had the second best criteria score of the 65 teams in the field, so the Tar Heels were selected to make it all the way to the last game.

 

Villanova has teetered on the brink of qualifying as a superior team.  After the regional semifinal and final rounds, the Wildcats statistical gains have elevated their criteria score to 11, which now gives them superior status.  Still, they trail UNC by six in this category.

 

The strengths of schedule are nearly equal, as UNC gets one additional point here.

 

Prediction

North Carolina is clearly the better team.  It doesn’t mean Villanova has no chance, because a really good team can defeat a great team under certain conditions.

 

We believe this game will remain close throughout the first half, and Villanova could go to the locker room with a small lead.  The Tar Heels have too many quality options for the entire roster to have an off game.  Coach Roy Williams will figure out how to get his hot players the ball in the second half, and UNC will go on a run and put this game away by taking a double digit lead in the final 12 minutes. 

 

North Carolina 78 Villanova 66

 

Tune in here Sunday Night for a preview of the Championship Game.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: