Final Four fearless forecast

MICHIGAN STATE VS. CONNECTICUT

Who will win?
Jason King: Connecticut, 75-63
Gerry Ahern: Michigan State, 68-65

Why?
Jason King: At this point in the season, it all comes down to who has the best players, and Connecticut wins that battle easily. As good as Michigan State’s Kalin Lucas has been, the Spartans will have trouble with the Huskies’ guard tandem of A.J. Price and Kemba Walker. Goran Suton has blown up during the NCAA tournament, but he may not be as effective against All-American Hasheem Thabeet.
Gerry Ahern: The Spartans, fueled by a supercharged Detroit crowd at Ford Field, will use their depth and rely on their big three – sophomore point guard Kalin Lucas, senior center Goran Suton and senior guard Travis Walton – to make big shots and frustrate the Huskies with dogged defense. They’ll neutralize Hasheem Thabeet, Jeff Adrien and A.J. Price en route to springing their second upset in two weeks.

The X-factor:
Jason King: Walker has come up huge for the Huskies since a season-ending injury to Jerome Dyson – especially during last week’s Elite Eight victory over Missouri. Walker is an NBA-caliber guard who could push Connecticut over the top.
Gerry Ahern: The play of freshman big man Draymond Green. Green has played an increased role in MSU’s tournament run with his instinctive play, defensive smarts and work on the glass. Expect Green to chip in at crunch time as the Spartans advance to Monday’s final.

VILLANOVA VS. NORTH CAROLINA

Who will win?
Jason King: UNC 85-70
Gerry Ahern: UNC, 82-76

Why?
Jason King: The biggest mistake an opposing team can make is to try to run with the Tar Heels. Unfortunately, it appears that’s what Jay Wright and Villanova are intent on doing. As athletic as the Wildcats are, they may not be as deep as the Tar Heels when it comes to talent. When it’s playing on an elite level, North Carolina is the best team in the country.
Gerry Ahern: The Tys that bind. Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson will avenge last year’s Final Four flop against Kansas. They will carry the Tar Heels to the brink of the national championship with their leadership and scoring punch. Meanwhile, UNC will limit Villanova’s standouts – Scottie Reynolds and Dante Cunningham – from doing too much damage.

The X-factor:
Jason King: Ed Davis is one of the top centers in the country – and he doesn’t even start. Combine him with Hansbrough, Deon Thompson and Tyler Zeller, and the Tar Heels have a huge advantage in the paint.
Gerry Ahern: Danny Green, the Tar Heels’ senior swingman, will again elevate his game and make sure the Wildcats don’t have the opportunity to stick around and steal the win.

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Updated Saturday, Apr 4, 2009