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Husky Men's Basketball Blog

Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta provides a running commentary on the Huskies. E-mail Bob.

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March 30, 2007

Does Pac-10 run stop here?

Posted by Bob Condotta at 6:02 PM

Just hours away from tipoff of what should be a fun Final Four, so I thought I'd give you my picks (though considering I picked Texas to win it all, I'll understand if you choose to stop reading here). And I encourage you do the same in the comments section.

UCLA has been at the forefront of the Pac-10's emergence as one of the top conferences in the country this season, and the Bruins could help make a case for the Pac-10 as unquestionably the best if they can emerge victorious here.

But much as I'd like to see the Pac-10 run continue, I'm afraid it's about to end. At the risk of going all Billy Packer here, I just think Florida is better.

I keep reading all these stories about Florida's supposed complacency. And sure, the Gators have looked a little bored at times, having done all this before.

But hard to see that being a factor now.

These guys all came back with just one thing in mind --- to make history by repeating. I don't think they'll have any trouble turning it two steps away from immortality.

And assuming they come to play, they are still --- in my mind --- the best team in the country. I just don't think UCLA's front line will be able to match up with Florida's, which will be the ultimate difference (though I'd forgotten that the Bruins actually outrebounded the Gators a year ago 40-35).

I'd love to be wrong, though, as I think that if UCLA can get past Florida it will win the whole thing.

The X factor here is Ben Howland. You have to think it has burned him since last April the way that the Gators dominated UCLA in the final. Howland's a master at devising gameplans to shut down opponents, and I'm betting he's had plans in mind for this game since the day after the tournament ended a year ago.

But as much as I think Lorenzo Mata is one of the more underrated players around, I just have problems seeing him stop Noah or Horford, no matter how good the strategy.

Sure, maybe UCLA can make up for its apparent shortcomings up front if Arron Afflalo and Darren Collison have superhuman games.

But this is a special Florida team, driven here by a quest to create a special legacy.

In the end, I think they'll get it done. Call it 72-61 against the Bruins.

In the other game, I like Ohio State over Georgetown. The Hoyas are undoubtedly riding a magical wave to have gotten this far, and that sort of karma can't be discounted.

But neither can having Greg Oden on your side.

So make it 81-75 Buckeyes and another Ohio State-Florida clash for a national title. We'll leave for later what that would say about all the supposed parity in college sports.


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