After a couple years of mid-majors breaking into the party and little guys leading their teams to titles, the Final Four will feature power players from power conferences.
The players are as good as it gets when it comes to big men: Kansas’ Thomas Robinson, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger and Kentucky’s Anthony Davis. They’re all first-team All-Americans, and Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng isn’t bad, either.
The teams, traditionally strong: Kentucky, Kansas, Louisville, Ohio State. Every one of them has won a national title, been to at least 10 or more Final Fours – all at least once in the past seven years – and have coaches who have won titles or coached in the title game.
Did we mention Louisville and Kentucky are playing each other?
ROBINSON, KANSAS. Big, strong, athletic, a double-double waiting to happen. Hard to believe this unanimous All-American wasn’t much more than a bit player last season.
DAVIS, KENTUCKY. The 6-foot-10 forward has had as much of an impact as any of coach John Calipari’s recent run of freshmen phenoms.
SULLINGER, OHIO STATE. The AP’s first repeat All-American in three years, Sullinger is the prototype of today’s big man: Big and physical, yet with good touch away from the basket and agile.
PEYTON SIVA, LOUISVILLE. The point guard can take over games with his scoring, but it’s his ability to get everyone involved that makes him so dangerous.
TYSHAWN TAYLOR, KANSAS. Ty is the guy when it comes to running Kansas’ offense.
DESHAUN THOMAS, OHIO STATE. Sullinger gets all the attention, but Thomas has been the Buckeyes’ leading scorer
in the postseason, averaging 21.8 points per game.
KYLE KURIC, LOUISVILLE. The
team’s leading scorer barely needs to touch the ball to get a shot off.
TERRENCE JONES, KENTUCKY. The Wildcats have an NBA team in the making, so it was hard to pick just one player. We went with Jones, the sophomore with multidimensional skills who creates so many matchup problems.
RICK PITINO, LOUISVILLE. The first coach to take three different schools to the Final Four, he has put together one of the best coach-’em-up jobs of his career this season, leading a team that had some big stumbles during the season into his sixth trip to the Final Four.
CALIPARI, KENTUCKY. The only thing missing for this master recruiter is a title.
THAD MATTA, OHIO STATE. Has the Buckeyes in the Final Four for the second time in six years after reaching the title game with Greg Oden in 2007. Kicking the team out of practice after a rough stretch in February, which lead to a team meeting, helped kick-start OSU’s run to New Orleans.
BILL SELF, KANSAS. Solidified his reputation by winning the 2008 national title with the Jayhawks and led a team that was supposed to be rebuilding to the Final Four this season.