Every year as the NCAA basketball tournament steps into the forefront of the sports world, there are always tons of predictions and analysts on which teams will advance and which lucky four can go the distance and place themselves amongst the game’s best that season in the Final Four. In 2008, for the first time, all four number-one-seeded teams reached college basketball’s ultimate round, earning a chance to compete for a national title. This year however all four number one seeds are truly not as strong as those from last season, so the chances of that happening again are very bleak.
Here are the four teams who appear to be poised and ready to make a strong run during this year’s tournament and advance to Detroit, Michigan, the site of the 2009 NCAA Final Four.
The North Carolina Tar Heels would be team number one on this list. The Tar Heels are the number seed in the South Region and finished the season with a 28-4 record, won the ACC regular season title and are looked at by many as the overall favorite to cut down the nets come April 6. UNC has a 6-3 record (in the regular season) against teams that have reached the tournament, including wins over Michigan State, Clemson, Florida State and Duke twice. Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green are ready to win it all especially if Ty Lawson is healthy and at full strength. Look for the Tar Heels to sweep through their portion of the bracket, only enduring a true test in the form of Syracuse in the Elite Eight, and punch their ticket for Detroit.
The Pittsburgh Panthers are team number two amongst these Final Four predictions sure to materialize. The Panthers are a very solid team on both sides of the ball and can dominate opponents physically which is displayed by their impressive 28-4 record. The incredible inside-outside combination of Dajuan Blair and Lavance Fields makes Pitt a very tough out in the tourney, while Sam Young is a scoring and dunking machine looking to take his team where they haven’t been since 1941, the Final Four. Pittsburgh boasts a 7-3 record against tournament teams this year including wins over Florida State, Syracuse, West Virginia twice and Connecticut twice. They’ll meet up with fellow Big East member Villanova in the Elite Eight and claim the East Region on their way to the Motor City.
The Memphis Tigers are the third team to make the cut of Final Four predictions sure to materialize. The Tigers are currently playing the better basketball than anyone else in the country and their 25-game winning streak and 31-3 record represent plenty proof of that. Their phenomenal freshman guard, Tyreke Evans is playing incredible since he has been placed at the point guard position and along with upperclassmen Antonio Anderson, Robert Dozier and Shawn Taggart, Memphis will return exactly where they were last year (just in a different city). The only knock on Memphis is who they actually beat this season and their record against tournament teams. Playing in Conference USA their schedule was inferior to the other teams that made this list as well as the fact that the Tigers only recorded a .500 winning percentage against teams in the tournament this year losing to Syracuse and Xavier. None the less Memphis is a competitive team with loads of talent and are in arguably the weakest region (West) so they’ll be headed to Detroit during the first weekend in April.
The Michigan State Spartans round out the four teams that are certain to advance all the way to the Final Four. The Spartans finished the year with a 26-6 record while capturing the Big Ten’s regular season crown. Michigan State may just be however the biggest enigma of the four teams due to the fact that they play inconsistent at times yet they have the best record against tournament teams amongst the four. The Spartans own a 13-4 record against tournament teams including wins over Oklahoma State, Texas, Kansas, Michigan, Purdue, Illinois twice and Minnesota three times. Look for Michigan State to battle it out with a very strong Louisville team in the Elite Eight, but the Spartans should be victorius. With a resume such as that and with players like Kalin Lucas, Raymar Morgan and Goran Suton it’s no wonder why Michigan State is ready to get through the Midwest Region and join North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Memphis in Detroit, Michigan for the 2009 Final Four.
Memphis will knock off Michigan State in the national semi-finals as will North Carolina to Pittsburgh, leaving a national championship match-up between the Tar Heels and the Tigers on April 6. To the dismay of Memphis fans everywhere the Tigers will fall to the same fate which they did last year losing in the final game and watching another team win it all and hoist the trophy. North Carolina is just too much for any team to handle, too talented and too deep. As long as the Heels play defense and hustle on every play; this prediction will certainly materialize as will they all.