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A look at Saturday’s Final Four games
Joey Rodriguez is a true college point guard, and his numbers in the NCAA tournament bear that out. The 5-foot-10 Rodriguez is averaging 10.1 points in the tournament, but his impressive numbers are 38 assists and 10 turnovers in that span. In the Rams’ win over Purdue, he had 12 points, 11 assists and no turnovers. He is comfortable directing the offense in the halfcourt, but he also does a good job of getting the ball to the right man on the break.
Shaka Smart burst onto the national scene with the Rams’ Final Four run. In his second season as a head coach, the 33-year-old Smart already has become a candidate for every Division I opening, and his season isn’t even over yet. He has solid credentials as an assistant having worked under Billy Donovan at Florida and Oliver Purnell at Clemson. He won 27 games in his first season, and the Rams won the CBI.
The Rams came into the tournament with a chip on their shoulder after so many said they didn’t deserve to be in the field, even one expanded by three teams. VCU has already won five games, something that would get a team to the title game in past years. What’s been most impressive is that only one win has been by less than 10 points, and that was an overtime win over Florida State.
Butler has been here before. VCU has done something no team has ever done before, going from the First Four to the Final Four. Both are carrying the banner for mid-major schools, and one will get to play for the national championship. Butler doesn’t mind an up-tempo game; that’s exactly what the Rams want, using their “Wreaking Havoc” style to force turnovers and create opportunities in the open court.
No matter who wins this game provides a great story. The team that has won so many close ones this tournament does it again _ Butler 74, VCU 67.
KENTUCKY (29-8) vs. CONNECTICUT (30-9)
ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR
No. 4 Kentucky beat No. 13 Princeton 59-57; No. 5 West Virginia 71-63; No. 1 Ohio State 62-60; No. 2 North Carolina 76-69.
Freshman Brandon Knight had two game-winners in the NCAA tournament, making a tough drive against Princeton with 2 seconds left and hitting a jumper with 5.4 seconds left to beat overall No. 1 seed Ohio State. He struggled from the field in both games before hitting the big shots. He had 30 points against West Virginia and 22 against North Carolina. The 6-foot-3 guard doesn’t have a great assist-to-turnover ratio (17-14 in the tournament), but he can score. His 14 games of 20 points-plus is a Kentucky freshman record.
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