Which teams will play for the NCAA basketball title?

Four Corners

November 10, 2009

Kentucky, Kansas primed
Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune

Kansas and Kentucky have been here before. If they meet in Indianapolis in April, basketball purists will be dancing in their Chuck Taylors.

Kentucky is going for its eighth national title. Kansas is chasing its second in three seasons. But the Wildcats and Jayhawks would arrive from very different paths.

Last season, Kentucky was relegated to the NIT. To Wildcats fans, that's the same as a Beverly Hills diva having to wardrobe shop at Walmart.

But with new coach John Calipari, forward Patrick Patterson and freshman point guard John Wall, Kentucky could win its first national title since 1998.

Kansas has every ingredient needed to win the championship: experience, depth, a skilled center in Cole Aldrich and a dynamic, know-how point guard in Sherron Collins. As long as the Jayhawks avoid off-the-court trouble, the title is theirs.

sryan@tribune.com

Texas, Butler can go deep
David Teel, Newport News Daily Press

Since picking chalk is about as much fun as tasting chalk, let's forgo a Kansas-Michigan State final and delve deeper into the pool of contenders for Texas and Butler.

The Longhorns have earned 11 consecutive NCAA tournament invites under Rick Barnes, among the best active coaches without a national title, and return wing Damion James to complement point guard Jai Lucas, a transfer from Florida.

Headlined by guard Shelvin Mack and forward Matt Howard, the Bulldogs have everyone back from the team that extended LSU to the limit in last year's first round.

A Final Four run would take Butler back home again to Indianapolis.

dteel@tribune.com

Pointing to Kansas-MSU
Andrew Carter, Orlando Sentinel

I like Kansas and Michigan State to meet on the final Monday night of the season because both teams return outstanding point guards from teams that were national championship contenders a year ago.

The Spartans, of course, reached the championship game last season but were no match for North Carolina. Junior point guard Kalin Lucas is back for Michigan State, and while he might not be as flashy as some, the reigning Big Ten player of the year is among the best in the nation.

And when's the last time Tom Izzo didn't get the most out of one of his teams?

The Jayhawks, meanwhile, return everybody from their Sweet 16 team, including center Cole Aldrich and point guard Sherron Collins. Those two could play the roles that Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson filled while leading the Tar Heels to the championship last season.

acarterb@tribune.com

Quickly, it's Kansas-'Nova
Andre D. Williams, The Morning Call

There's no Florida- or North Carolina-like dream team in college basketball this season, a team that you figure is a lock to cut down the nets. Still, it will be a very exciting season into the final game, likely between Kansas and Villanova.

Both teams - led by senior All-America guards who are national player of the year candidates in the Jayhawks' Sherron Collins and the Wildcats' Scottie Reynolds - can score at will.

Collins has 6-foot-11 Cole Aldrich to dish to, and they form a potent one-two combination. Villanova has multiple gunslinging guards who also will press the pants off teams.

The 'Nova fleet of guards will make this a memorable season that ends with a title showdown against Kansas in Indianapolis that will seem like an IndyCar race.

adwilliams@tribune.com

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