Monday, April 02, 2007

Can the Florida Gators repeat?

With the National Championship game just hours from the tip off, the headlines are just piling in. Can the Gators repeat? Will this be Greg Oden's final collegiate game? Will Billy Donovan leave Florida for the job at Kentucky? If you were to ask ten people who they would take, i'm sure about 9 of them would take the Gators and rightfully so. The Gators and Buckeyes have played once already this year and Florida destroyed OSU, 86-60 back in late December. But it should be noted that when the two teams matched up, Freshman superstar, Greg Oden, was only playing in his 5th game(4th start). So the notation that he was still adjusting to the College game and seeing how Florida was his first "major" competition it's pretty easy to see why he struggled against Florida's Twin Towers, Joakim Noah and Al Horford. But with that said, i'm sure if you ask any of the Buckeye's, including head coach, Thad Matta, they would not make excuses, but simply say the better team won that day.

Things have since changed, the Buckeyes feel they are the better team and they are looking to put a stop to history and take down the mighty Gators. And the Gators want to win just as bad, if not more. There's immortality on the line for them, they could be the first team since 1991-92 to win back-to-back National Championships. This could easily be the last games for many underclassmen, such as Greg Oden, Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, Al Horford, Taurean Green, Mike Conley Jr, etc and last games for many seniors, Ron Lewis, Ivan Harris, Lee Humphrey and Chris Richard. Oh and by the way, I don't expect Conley, Green and Brewer to leave college, especially Conley, he'll stay for at least another year if not more.

Reasons why the Gators will repeat:

1. Their Frontcourt-

The Florida Gators have the best front court in all of basketball in my mind, both offensively and defensively. If Joakim Noah can stay hungry and is able to run the court and Al Horford can shut down Oden the Gators will be impossible to defeat. Also look for the Gators to absolutely dominate the boards tonight.

2. Lee Humphrey's shot-

Lee Humphrey reminds me of one of my favorite Connecticut Huskies of all-time, Rashad Anderson. Much like Anderson, Humphrey is an assassin behind the arc and can change a game with one shot. Humphrey has the ability to pierce a dagger in the Buckeye's hearts late in the game with his huge three-point shooting.

3. They have a destiny to full-fill.

When it all said and done with, the Gators will either be put in the same class with all of those great Duke, UCLA and Kentucky teams or they can be put in the same class with a team like the 1984 Georgetown Hoyas, who won 1 Championship and should have repeated but weren't able to.

Reasons why the Buckeyes will win:

1. Mike Conley Jr and Ron Lewis-

Ohio State has one of the best backcourts in basketball with Mike Conley Jr distancing himself as not only the best freshman point guard but maybe the best point guard in all of college basketball. The way he can dominate a game and his slashing ability will throw the Gators off, and not only will he be able to draw the attention to him, but it could leave Oden open for easy baskets down low. Ron Lewis is their senior leader and with out him they wouldn't be here right now. He came up with the game tieing shot that sent them into overtime against Xavier and was a huge reason why they were able to have that historic comeback against Tennessee and they will need his late game heroics tonight if they are to win.

2. A far superior bench-

I am the type of guy that loves to see a team with a deep and talented bench. And the Gators don't have that, they have two to three guys that can come off the bench and still play solid, but the Buckeyes have four to five guys that could easily be starters that can come off the bench and play well. Ivan Harris, Jamar Butler and the talented freshmen Daequan Cook and David Lightly can all score and play defense. I expect Lightly to get a lot of playing time, because he can guard anyone from Noah to Green and do it very well if Greg Oden gets into foul trouble.

3. The Fab Three-

They aren't the Fab Five that Michigan had but the way these freshmen play for coach Matta, it is something special to watch. Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr and Daequan Cook all average over 10 points per game and Oden leads the team in points, rebounds and blocks and Conley leads them in assist(with 6.1) and straight awesomeness. And don't forget about Lightly, who I expect to be a starter next year if Oden does indeed leave for the NBA.

And now onto my pick, I love both teams, but i'm going with the Buckeyes in a close down-to-the-wire game. I think Conley will take over the game and give Ohio State the tempo and with their bench, Oden downlow and Lewis' shooting I think they will pull off the upset.

And here is a very funny video of Noah responding to Ron Lewis' comments.

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