Rothstein Files: 4 X-Factors In The 2012 Final Four
By Jon Rothstein
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1. DARIUS MILLER, KENTUCKY
The lone senior in the Wildcats rotation was a driving force in Kentucky’s wins over Iowa State and Indiana and is the only player on this team to play significant minutes in three consecutive NCAA Tournaments. The 2011 SEC Tournament MVP, Miller will be critical against Louisville’s vaunted 2-3 match up zone. If he and Doron Lamb find seams in the defense and make enough shots from the perimeter, John Calipari should have his team in the National Championship game for the first time since his arrival in the Commonwealth.
2. KYLE KURIC, LOUISVILLE
In order for the Cardinals to pull off a miraculous upset over Kentucky, they’re going to have to make their share of outside shots and that immediately starts with Kuric. A lights out gunner for the majority of his career, the 6-foot-4 senior is going through the worst shooting season of his four year career under Rick Pitino and has only made 5-of-21 3-point attempts in the NCAA Tournament. If Louisville is going to shock the world, they’re going to need Kuric to produce.
3. DESHAUN THOMAS, OHIO STATE
No player has exploded during the postseason like this crafty lefty. During the Buckeyes four NCAA Tournament games, Thomas is averaging just under 22 points per game, while grabbing nine boards, and shooting over 52% from the floor. Flawless? Just about. A match up nightmare with a capable range and a lethal in between game, the 6-foot-7 forward will likely be guarded by Kansas’ power forward Thomas Robinson on Saturday in what could be the best individual showdown in the entire Final Four.
4. JEFF WITHEY, KANSAS
When Withey plays at a high level, the Jayhawks are a different team. The shot blocking big man is best against conventional styles with traditional big men and that’s just what Kansas will see when they face off against Jared Sullinger and Ohio State. If Withey controls the rim and forces Sullinger to play away from the paint, Bill Self has to like his chances to advancing past the Buckeyes.
Who do you think will make the title game? Sound off in the comments below…