All you need to know from Final Four Saturday
Ten burning questions that must be asked now that the Final Four has become the Final Two.
ATLANTA -- Ten burning questions that must be asked now that the Final Four is the Final Two:
1. The fastest moving object in Atlanta this weekend is:
A: A MARTA train.
B: The rumors involving Billy Donovan and Kentucky.
C: Ohio State point guard Mike Conley Jr.
D: Monday night game tickets unloaded by Georgetown fans.
Conley Jr., who led the Buckeyes with 15 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and exactly one turnover in 39 near-flawless minutes in the win against Georgetown Saturday evening. Yeah, I know: Conley says he's "definitely" returning for his sophomore season. Uh, huh. Sure he is today. The guy might be the best freshman point guard, well, ever, and, oh, his dad recently opened up his own shop as a player agent.
2. The two folded sheets of white paper that Donovan consulted during the UCLA game featured:
A: Condensed scouting crib notes.
B: The latest salary offer from Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart.
C: The latest salary counteroffer from Florida AD Jeremy Foley.
D: Instructions on how to untie Joakim Noah's ponytail.
Donovan kept the notes at the end of the scorer's table. Mostly he chirped at the officials, so much so that lead official Curtis Shaw chirped back. "Not another word," he told Donovan late in the first half. "That is it." Donovan didn't say another peep.
3. The worst thing that happened to UCLA during the first 8 minutes and 34 seconds of the Florida game was:
A: Its male cheerleaders appeared on the floor. Men in powder blue polyester.
B: All-America guard Arron Afflalo committed three fouls.
C: In a Final Four first (and God willing, last), a UCLA-approved juggler performed during a timeout.
D: The Bruins could only convert 2-of-11 field goal attempts.
Afflalo's three fouls cost the Bruins their best player for 15 minutes of the first half (three fouls, zero points -- and he didn't start the second half). But the NCAA needs to address the juggler thing. A suggestion: Ipose the death penalty if it happens again.
A: Officials Ted Valentine versus Richard Cartmell versus Mike Kitts: which one could call the most fouls on Hibbert and Buckeyes' center Greg Oden?
B: Hibbert versus Oden (when they weren't on the bench).
C: Oden versus the rim on his savage, Spiderman-leap that almost resulted in the greatest Final Four dunk of all time.
D: CBS's Billy Packer versus anybody who disagrees with him.
Oden almost hit his head on the Georgia Dome roof.
5. The over-under on fouls for Oden in Monday night's championship game is:
Answer: All of the above.
Oden played exactly 161 seconds in the first half against Georgetown. He spent more time on his butt than Packer. In his last three tournament games he's been on the court for 18, 24 and 20 minutes. This isn't a coincidence anymore, it's an Ohio State nightmare, especially when Florida can play tag team with Noah, Al Horford and Chris Richard inside.
6. Now that we have the first-ever BCS Championship/Final Four rematch, you'll know Ohio State has no chance to beat Florida if:
A: The Buckeyes score the first time they touch the ball.
B: Oden puts up Troy Smith numbers (4-of-14).
C: OSU trails at halftime, 34-14.
D: Tim Tebow enters the game on short-rebounding situations.
By the way, it probably isn't a good thing for the Buckeyes that Gators head football coach Urban Meyer arrived in Atlanta Saturday night.
7. During the waning minutes of Saturday night's win against UCLA, Florida's Foley embraced several Gator fans in the stands because:
A: He was thrilled about UF's second consecutive trip to the Final Four championship game.
B: He yearns for physical contact.
C: He needed a hug after realizing the price to keep Donovan in Gainesville just went way up. Think $3 million plus per.
D: He was stealing wallets.
But C isn't far behind, even though Donovan, in the postgame news conference, sounded like a guy who wasn't going anywhere.
8. The best player on the Georgia Dome court Saturday night was:
Answer: A and D.
A tie (yeah, it's a weenie thing to do) between Conley and (this is a toughie) Horford. Conley helped OSU survive and advance without Oden, while Horford did the things that give you a chance at two-peats. He only took three shots and scored 9 points, but his 17 rebounds were three more than the combined total of UCLA's starters. Is that any good? And he always made the right pass out of the low post. Honorable mention: Noah.
9. Dec. 23, 2006, is an important date because:
A: It's the birthday of Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder.
B: Florida beat Ohio State by 26 in the O-Dome.
C: When asked about playing against the celebrated Oden, Noah told reporters: "Nobody on this team was scared of him; people should be scared of us."
D: When asked about his team's performance, Matta told reporters: "I can't think of many things we did right."
This is not a good omen for the Buckeyes. Florida beat UCLA by 16 in last year's championship game, and by 10 in this year's semi (it could have been more, believe me). The Gators like to prove a point. But remember, Oden's surgically repaired right wrist was much worse than it is now (he shot free throws left-handed in that game). Of course, Horford was playing on a bad ankle and still had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
10. That weeping sound you heard after the two semifinal games came from:
B: UCLA's Ben Howland.
C: Georgetown's John Thompson III.
D: North Carolina's Roy Williams, whose team yakked away a 10-point, second-half lead against the Hoyas in the regional finals, and Kansas' Bill Self, who has to be wondering how the Bruins cost him a trip to Atlanta.
Oden and Hibbert played a combined 13 minutes in the first half. And Florida had an 18-point lead with more than nine minutes remaining in the game. You can only play those Masters promos so many times.
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at email@example.com.
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