Final Four capsules

Posted: March 30, 2007

GEORGETOWN (30-6) vs. OHIO ST. (34-3)

When: Tomorrow, 6:07 p.m.

Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta.

TV/Radio: CBS3/WPEN (950-AM).

History: The Hoyas won a second-round NCAA meeting last year, 70-52. The series is 2-2.

Coaches: John Thompson III is 72-29 in 3 years at Georgetown and 140-71 in 7 years overall. Thad Matta is 80-21 in 3 years at Ohio State, 182-52 in 7 years overall.

How they got here: No. 2 Georgetown defeated No. 15 Belmont, 80-55, No. 7 Boston College, 62-55, No. 6 Vanderbilt, 66-65, and No. 1 North Carolina, 96-84 (OT), to win the East Regional. No. 1 Ohio State defeated No. 16 Central Connecticut State, 78-57, No. 9 Xavier, 78-71 (OT), No. 5 Tennessee, 85-84, and No. 2 Memphis, 92-76, to win the South Regional.

Three things Georgetown must do:

1. Give the Buckeyes different looks on defense while trying to keep Mike Conley Jr. (the holder of OSU's season assist and steal records) out of the lane.

2. Let Jonathan Wallace (15 assists, two turnovers, 53.1 percent shooting in the NCAA) and Jeff Green (18.0 points in seven postseason games) make as many decisions as possible.

3. Keep the ball moving side to side on offense so Greg Oden (school season-record 100 blocks) can't just hang out in the lane waiting to change or block anything close to the hoop.

Three things Ohio State must do:

1. Get to the foul line, where it has attempted 311 more shots than opponents, because the Buckeyes don't foul (second fewest nationally).

2. Have Ron Lewis (21.8 points in the NCAA, 12-for-26 from the arc, 21-for-21 from the foul line) continue on fire.

3. Play a lot of zone to keep Oden out of foul trouble and not let the Hoyas' offense get too comfortable against man-to-man.

Key players

Ohio State: Greg Oden. Can affect offenses without ever blocking a shot, because any player near the lane feels his presence. Has much better offensive game than he has shown, because his surgically repaired right wrist impaired him much of the season and his jump-shooting teammates often ignore him.

Georgetown: Jeff Green. The toughest matchup in college hoops probably will force Ohio State to play even more zone than normal. If he gets the ball with space to maneuver, he is the classic triple threat (drive, pass, shoot), who invariably makes the right decision, because he sees a snapshot of the court.

What to expect: Even though both teams scored more than 90 points in the regional finals, this game really does not figure to be high-scoring. The Hoyas are fifth nationally in field-goal defense and ninth in scoring defense (57.8 points). The Buckeyes allow only 61.4 points and are used to the slower, defensive-oriented style of the Big Ten. Ohio State has four players with more than 50 threes, which is why it is so hard to guard. Wallace is a great three-point shooter (48.6 percent) for the Hoyas. G-Town freshman DaJuan Summers, an amazing athlete, is on the come. Hoyas center Roy Hibbert is a real force and his battle with Oden will be the game within the game. I picked Georgetown to win it all when this started, hoping that Ohio State would be gone. There is very little to separate these teams. I think the Buckeyes have more talent. I think Georgetown is a slightly better team.

- Dick Jerardi

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(33-5) vs. UCLA (30-5)

When: Tomorrow, 8:47 p.m.

Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta.

TV/Radio: CBS3/WPEN (950-AM).

History: Apparently, these teams meet only in the Final Four. Last year's NCAA championship game, won by Florida, 73-57, was the first meeting. This national semifinal is the second.

Coaches: Billy Donovan is 259-103 in 11 years at Florida, 294-123 in 13 seasons overall. Ben Howland is 91-40 in 4 years at UCLA, 259-139 in 13 seasons overall.

How they got here: No. 1 Florida defeated No. 16 Jackson State, 112-69; No. 9 Purdue, 74-67; No. 5 Butler, 65-57; and No. 3 Oregon, 85-77, to win the Midwest Regional. No. 2 UCLA defeated Weber State, 70-42; No. 7 Indiana, 54-49; No. 3 Pittsburgh, 64-55; and No. 1 Kansas, 68-55, to win the West Regional.

Three things Florida must do:

1. Play from the whistle. The Gators have made a nasty habit of falling behind early in this tournament, relying on their supreme talent to get them over the hump in the end. That works against Butler and even Oregon. Ain't going to work here.

2. Limit the turnovers. Florida got sloppy in both its regional semifinal and final games, giving up easy buckets to both Butler and Oregon. With the stifling defense UCLA plays, taking care of the basketball will be of huge importance.

3. Hit free throws. Florida let Oregon back into the regional final with its inaccuracy at the line. There won't be much wiggle room in this game to give away points.

Three things UCLA must do:

1. Force a halfcourt game. If it's broke, fix it. In last year's national championship, the Bruins thought they could run with the Gators, and the Gators ran to a 16-point romp. UCLA is a better team, no question, but still can't play at Florida's breakneck speed.

2. Trust its defense. Ben Howland has built his reputation on defense, and this group has it in spades. The Bruins have held all of their tournament opponents to fewer than 60 points, a number that will have huge implications here.

3. Work the boards. Smaller than the Gators, the Bruins can't concede too many easy second-chance shots.

Key players

Florida: Corey Brewer. Everyone talks about Joakim Noah and Al Horford, but Brewer is the matchup nightmare. Long and lanky, he can shoot, as well as create shots, meaning he's an option whether UCLA chooses to guard the perimeter or the post.

UCLA: Arron Afflalo. It's pretty simple. As Afflalo goes, so will go the Bruins. He's the go-to guy and the heart of this team but can be prone to disappearing (see three points against Cal in the Pac-10 Tournament). Florida will concentrate most of its attention on him, but he still must find a way to score.

What to expect: This rematch won't look anything like last year. Both teams are much better and have something extra to fight for - Florida for its second title, UCLA to erase last season's championship embarrassment. Expect this to be tight to the finish.

- Dana Pennett O'Neil

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