But in my 2008 Basketball Preview post I predicted the following:
My Final Four Teams:
That’s not bad! Considering Louisville knocked out Tennesee… in retrospect, that East bracket (including UNC) turned out to be a doozy. I also had Kansas State as my dark horse, and they had a surprise upset over USC, so I’ll take partial credit for that.
As for UCLA, my prescience is astounding:
The primary concern about this team is its distinct lack of consistent threats from beyond the arc. If UCLA runs into a hot-shooting team like Louisville, Memphis, or Oregon, they may find it difficult to come from behind… similar to the San Diego Chargers under Marty Shottenheimer, who were built to control the game around LaDanian Tomlinson.
The lack of consistent outside shooting (especially from Josh Shipp) has left the Bruins dangerously close several times recently… they’ve won 5 out of the last 8 games by 3 points or less, not including a forced overtime with Stanford where they pulled away late.
Finally, let’s answer some questions I posed:
Firstly, just how good is Kevin Love? Will he dominate college competition the way he did in high school (where he averaged over 20 points and rebounds per contest)?
Answer: VERY good Over the last 10 games he has taken his game to another level, carrying his team in the last two tournament games. In fact, he’s arguably been the best player in college basketball. It looks like the hype was true when people were saying Love would’ve been the best big man in the Pac-10 conference as a Junior in high school. He certainly is now.
Will Shipp stay healthy and quick enough to guard guards instead of wings?
Shipp’s health has not been a concern this season, but mostly because he’s not the “junk yard dog” player he used to be. The game at Stanford probably ruined his season, because he was taking (and making) deep threes off the dribble and on drifting curls. He’s since been ice cold. And I don’t think the Bruins can win a title unless Shipp is aggressively attacking the basket and only taking threes when they’re available.
Will Mbah a Moute succeed away from the basket?
No. This is curious because Ben Howland has had such success developing players, but Mbah a Moute really hasn’t been the same player he was as a freshman (when he was fighting for minutes). The guy is nails defensively (before the ankle injury) and shows some random promise on offense, but for the most part his takes to the basket are out of control and lead to turnovers. The emergence of James Keefe has been a blessing (and a wise move on Howland’s part to waste his redshirt).
Will Collison learn to be a leader and distributer without Farmar or Afflalo?
In the second half of the season, yes. And what’s more, Rus Westbrook turned out to be FAR better than I could’ve imagined. The Bruins’ backcourt is probably the best in the country.
Will Jessica Alba replace Ashley Judd as the hottest fan in college basketball?
Even preggo Alba is an upgrade over the aging Judd. It’s a sympolic surpassing…. as UCLA will this year overtake UK as the proudest basketball program in the history of the NCAA.