Final Four 2012 Schedule: 3 Things to Watch for in Saturday's Opener

Michael DixonAnalyst IIIMarch 31, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 30:  Anthony Davis #23 of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts during practice prior to the 2012 Final Four of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on March 30, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Not a lot more can be said about the Final Four that hasn't already been said. Still, it's nice to have a little guide. So, when you're watching the first game on Saturday, these are the things to keep a close eye on as Louisville and Kentucky square off for a right to play for the national championship.


How Will Rick Pitino Handle Anthony Davis?

This one intrigues me. If there is one coach who can find a way to adjust and neutralize a great player, it's Pitino. The most logical idea is also the most dangerous.

If the Cardinals go right at Davis, they can potentially get him in foul trouble, which is a huge neutralizer. But if they run at Davis, then they risk him blocking about 16 shots on the day, and that's not going to work. 

Pitino will have to find a working balance in this one, because he is not going to win this game if Davis isn't neutralized on both ends of the floor. 


What Offensive Strategy Will Louisville Go with?

This is kind of an interesting conundrum. A nice way for an underdog to make a statement is to play aggressive ball, trying to get the favorite off of its game. With that being said, Louisville's only real chance in this game is to limit possessions, meaning they have to slow it down. 

So it will be a nice little balance. Louisville can't be too cautious for the sake of their mental game, but can't be too aggressive for how the game has to be played on the court. Louisville will have to find a balance there, between making a statement and playing smart basketball.


Will Kentucky Look to Make a Statement?

Okay, I am tipping my hand here. I am picking the Wildcats, and I also don't think it will be all that close. They are just better up and down the court. Even if the game is played to Louisville's style, Kentucky will pull it out. 

So here's what I want to know. When Kentucky is up big late in the game, will they pull the starters and slow the game around, or will Calipari look to send a message? The message would be two-fold.

To Louisville: We are the top team in this state and don't you forget it.

To Ohio State or Kansas: Do you really want to win the second game and have this happen to you?

I am guessing that they will go hard all game long. I don't expect Calipari to call the dogs off until maybe the final moments. Either way, don't look for a close game. 


National Semifinals: Saturday, March 31

 Game Teams Time (ET)  TV
Semifinal 1 Louisville vs. Kentucky  6:09 p.m. CBS 
Semifinal 2  Ohio State vs. Kansas  8:49 p.m. CBS

National Championship Game: Monday, April 2

Teams Time (ET)  TV
Semifinal 1 winner vs. Semifinal 2 winner  9 p.m. CBS