The Final Four Saturday will feature three No. 1 seeds and party-crashing Michigan State, the 7th seed from the East. Duke plays Michigan State at 6:09 pm; Wisconsin plays Kentucky in a rematch at 8:49 pm.
How good is the 2015 Final Four? Tom Izzo has been to seven Final Fours, and won one title; Coach K has been to 12 Final Fours and won four titles; John Calipari has been to six Final Fours and won one title.
A lot of people are going to focus on the coaches, but we’ll take a look at the players because there could be eight 2015 NBA Draft lottery picks on the floor Saturday night in Indianapolis.
Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns likely will be the first two picks in the draft. I had Okafor 1st in my February mock draft, but Towns has been coming on strong for the last two months, and is seriously challenging Okafor to be the No. 1 pick.
Yes, everyone is excited about the two battling in the low post a week from tonight.
Duke’s Justise Winslow is having himself a tremendous tournament, shooting 7-of-12 on three-pointers, and he’s been a beast at the defensive end (seven blocks, six steals). He’s a lock to go in the Top 10, and ESPN analyst Jay Williams told me on my Yahoo Sports Radio show Sunday morning that Winslow – James Harden? – will go 5th or 6th in the draft.
Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein, a 7-footer who is capable of defending small forwards on the perimeter or big men inside, is very likely a Top 10 pick. The real question is what happens with two other potential lottery picks on Kentucky, sharpshooter Devin Booker and Trey Lyles. Both are immensely talented players capable of going in the 2015 draft despite modest freshman stats. Do they hang around for another year and then go in the Top 10 in the 2016 draft?
Booker could be the best shooter – despite struggling in February – at the top of the draft, and scouts are salivating about the prospect of Lyles defending hot Wisconsin junior Sam Dekker Saturday night.
Wisconsin has two players who could go in the draft lottery – center Frank Kaminsky, who projects as a stretch-4 in the NBA, and the fast-rising Dekker, who like Winslow has put on a show in the tournament.
Dekker has always had the tools, but he appears to freelance too much for Bo Ryan’s regimented system, and often finds himself in the doghouse. He only had three 20+ scoring games in the regular season; he’s had three of those in the NCAA tournament, including torching UNC for 23 in the Sweet 16 and then lighting up Arizona for 27 in the Elite 8. He’s probably going to go before Kaminsky in the lottery because Dekker’s a better athlete and defender.