Final Four Player Matchups: Who Has the Edge? - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Final Four Player Matchups: Who Has the Edge?

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    Final Four Player Matchups: Who Has the Edge?
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    Scottie Reynolds and the Wildcats or Ty Lawson and the Tar Heels...Who's it gonna be?

    Which teams have the edge in player matchups during Saturday's Final Four games? NBCSports.com's Ray Glier breaks it all down.

    VILLANOVA VS. NORTH CAROLINA

    Point guard

    Ty Lawson: While he was trying to nurse his toe back to health, Lawson kept practicing his outside shot and it is a real weapon now. It was good before, but with the toe healthy and the quickness returning, Lawson can beat a team both ways. There are no more questions about his fitness to lead the Tar Heels to the national title. Villanova wants to play with some tempo, and take it easy, but Lawson will not allow it. 

    Scottie Reynolds: He’s no longer a streaky shooter. Give him some credit; he’s fearless and can make a big bucket. It's hard to stop Reynolds off the dribble, which is what Carolina needs to do because Reynolds influences so much offense. His outside shot has to be on Saturday because Carolina won't give him much inside.

    Our pick: North Carolina

    Shooting Guard

    Wayne Ellington: The nation's most under-appreciated player. The Ty tandem, Lawson and Hansbrough, get a lot of mention, but Ellington has evolved as a player. He moves without the ball, gets shots and also beats people off pump fakes. No longer a jump shooter, Ellington breaks down a defense and gives Carolina a wing weapon.

    Reggie Redding: The Wildcats became a Final Four team was because Redding tapped into his potential with double-digit games in the NCAA tournament vs. UCLA and Duke. He is not taking bad shots and he has 15 assists in the last three games. He's Villanova's third scorer.

    Our pick: North Carolina

    Small Forward

    Dwayne Anderson: Anderson had 17 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals against Pitt in the regional final. He has had four double-digit scoring games in the last five. Players like Anderson coming on is one more reason the Wildcats peaked at the right time.

    Danny Green: After a late-season slump that coincided with Lawson’s toe injury, Green is back to making shots. He could always be counted on to defend and move the ball on offense, but now the shot is falling and UNC has a threat at every spot on the floor again. He's hit 11 of his last 20 shots.

    Our pick: North Carolina

    Forward

    Deon Thompson: The least known among UNC starters, but an effective post player and rebounder. Thompson stays close to the basket and scoops up misses. He does not take bad shots and is tough to move out of position. He's the reason teams don’t get many second-chances. On any other team, he'd be more than a role player.

    Shane Clark: After a so-so season, Clark turned out to be a major factor by hitting some big 3s against Pitt. North Carolina has to think twice if it wants to help off Clark. He makes 47 percent of his field-goal attempts and will help Villanova with big buckets.

    Our pick: Even

    Forward

    Tyler Hansbrough: The last thing Villanova needs is a motivated Tyler Hansbrough. He said he came back to win a national championship. A week before the NCAA tournament started he was looking forward to Detroit. Hansbrough averages 21 points and 8 rebounds a game; he might get 30 against Villanova.

    Dante Cunningham: The jump hook is a nasty little shot, isn’t it? Cunningham was the most improved player in the Big East this season and has become a star with NBA potential. He is fast around the basket and can hit an outside jump shot.

    Our pick: North Carolina

    Coach

    Roy Williams: Wayne Ellington and Tyler Hansbrough combined for 17 points vs. Oklahoma and the Tar Heels still won by 12. Williams finds other players who will perform in the pressure of a big game, first by recruiting them and then developing them. He has guys ready to step in when others falter.

    Jay Wright: Wright has the magic touch. Call a play, it works. Make a sub, it works. Juice up his players, it works. Wright trusts his players and they trust him, and they play for him. A great coach gets his players to make decisions in the clutch. He’ll need all the magic available to beat UNC.

    Our pick: North Carolina

    Bench

    North Carolina: Freshman big Ed Davis is a future NBA player. Bobby Frasor, a senior point guard, can dog somebody on defense for three-minute stretches and will not make mistakes. Larry Drew II, fast and athletic, is another effective bench player and don’t look now, here comes another Ty ... Zeller, a 7-foot freshman.

    Villanova: The Coreys, Fisher and Stokes, have to be productive because you know Carolina’s reserves are going to show up. Corey Fisher has been averaging eight points a game the last three tournament games; Corey Stokes is averaging 9 a game this month. It’s a nice bench.

    Our pick: North Carolina

    Intangibles

    North Carolina: The Tar Heels will not be asleep in the first half of this national semifinal, like they were last year when Kansas jumped to a 40-12 lead. Carolina was supposed to be a contender for the title and did not show up for tip off, for whatever reason. The lapse will not happen again.

    Villanova: Villanova is the hottest team around. The Wildcats deserve a bunch of credit for gathering themselves for this run into the Final Four. They have a lot of confidence and can make big plays; now they just have to keep it close and play together.

    Our pick: North Carolina

     

    CONNECTICUT VS. MICHIGAN STATE

    Point guard

    A.J. Price: Dangerous creating or shooting, Price is the kind of guard UConn builds around. He'll get 15-18 shots a game and will be a tough assignment for MSU's defender. There will be no help on Price because the Spartans would rather focus on stopping UConn’s big men. 

    Kalin Lucas: Lucas has 19 assists the last three tournament games. He beats pressure and keeps his team focused or takes the big shot when needed. That’s what happened against Louisville; Lucas made the Cards pass to players that could not shoot.

    Our pick: Even

    Shooting Guard

    Travis Walton: Travis Walton shut down Louisville’s Terrence Williams. Does Tom Izzo ask him to shut down UConn mighty mite Kemba Walker or will he focus on A.J. Price? Price makes the most sense because they're similar in size, but Walton could guard either player. He's an underrated shooter, too.

    Craig Austrie: Austrie's shooting is down (22 percent in the last 8 games), which is why freshman Kimba Walker has playing so much. The senior has not been a consistent threat for a while. He has many turnovers as assists in the last two games. This might be about the time he breaks out.

    Our pick: Michigan State

    Small forward

    Stanley Robinson: Robinson has thrived in the tourney. He is averaging 17 points over the last five games and playing great defense. He had four blocks against Missouri and helps Hasheem Thabeet on defense. The Huskies have gone from very good to great with his emergence.

    Raymar Morgan: Morgan is anybody's guess. He played 10 minutes against Louisville with a broken nose, then sat the bench. Maybe six days of practicing with a protective mask will help. Morgan has made just 1 of his last 12 shots, but he is an upperclassman and could provide some glue in a physical game.

    Our pick: Connecticut

    Power forward

    Jeff Adrien: Adrien is the Huskies' most physical player and a great rebounder, but he has a tough assignment here. If he's not guarding Goran Suton -- a good perimeter shooter -- he'll have to bang down low against Roe. He'll be up for either task.

    Delvon Roe: A freshman that eats up space blocking out and rebounding. He's struggled against faster opponents of late, but the freshman could get some minutes against UConn if it turns into a half-court game.

    Our pick: Connecticut

    Center

    Goran Suton: Suton can draw post players away from the basket with his outside shooting, which is a big deal for the Huskies. Their strengths are rebounding and blocked shots. Suton's also a good passer and smart player.

    Hasheem Thabeet: Opponents are shooting 36 percent and getting out-rebounded by an average of 17 a game in the tournament. The reason? They can’t get close enough to the basket with the 7-foot-3 Thabeet around the rim. He's an obstacle that is hard to overcome.

    Our pick: Connecticut

    Coach

    Tom Izzo: He pushed all the right buttons in the early rounds. Now he must ensure Kalin Lucas and Travis Walton keep UConn’s guards under control. There can be no help in this game because of the Huskies’ big men, so Izzo must devise ways to keep them out of the paint.

    Jim Calhoun: He must make a choice on how to deal with Goran Suton, who loosened up Louisville’s defense with his outside shooting. Does he send Stanley Robinson outside and away from the basket and keep Jeff Adrien close to rebound with Hasheem Thabeet?

    Our pick: Even

    Bench

    Michigan State's bench has been great. In the victory over Louisville, Durrell Summers and Draymond Green were a combined 7-of-12 shooting from the field. With starter Raymar Morgan trying to find his way with a mask protecting his nose, the bench looms larger in Detroit.

    UConn’s bench has been the freshman Kemba Walker, who has been excellent. Gavin Edwards, a 6-foot-9 junior, can give 11-13 minutes a game to rest the big men. Michigan State has an edge here, but not as significantly if UConn was playing an up-and-down team like Louisville.

    Our pick: Michigan State

    Intangibles

    Michigan state needed Michigan State. There is a resolve and the entire citizenry is riding with this club. But ... Michigan State made 8-of-16 3-pointers against Louisville after shooting 35 percent in the regular season. That had more to do with the upset than state pride.

    The Huskies are motivated. They feel under siege because of revelations about their recruiting and want to win for coach Jim Calhoun. The Huskies have a lot of senior leadership, plus the confidence of having shot blockers Thabeet and Robinson.

    Our pick: Michigan State