Bragging Rights Bracket: Midwest Regional Final

by Micah Hart

For the complete Bragging Rights rules and to vote for other matchups, click here. Our next matchup mirrors real life, as two teams that will meet on the hardcourt at the Final Four in Houston this weekend also meet for the chance to move the hypothetical Final Four in the Bragging Rights challenge.


Connecticut Huskies

Starters (all stats per 48 minutes, through 3/28):

Ray Allen, Celtics: 22.6 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 0.2 blocks, 1.3 steals
Ben Gordon, Pistons: 21.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 0.4 blocks, 1.1 steals
Emeka Okafor, Hornets: 15.8 points, 14.6 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 2.8 blocks, 0.7 steals
Charlie Villanueva, Pistons: 23.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.1 blocks, 1.1 steals
Rip Hamilton, Pistons: 25.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 0.0 blocks, 1.1 steals

Missed the cut: Caron Butler, Mavericks (injured); Rudy Gay, Grizzlies (injured); A.J Price, Pacers; Hilton Armstrong, Hawks; Hasheem Thabeet, Rockets; Jeff Adrien, Warriors

How they got here: Took the USC Trojans behind the woodshed in the Sweet 16, winning by a 91%-9% margin.

Team synopsis: Things have changed a bit for UConn since their Sweet 16 win. Rudy Gay was lost to shoulder surgery and will miss the rest of the season, which by our rules makes him ineligible. Tough break for the Huskies, who are now down two starters in Gay and Caron Butler. Fortunately, Charlie V is a capable player, who like Ben Gordon is probably even better in a playground environment like this. Plus, Villanueva gives the team a little more height to go with Okafor in the middle. This is still a dynamite scoring team for the boys from Storrs. How you would stop Allen and Hamilton, two of the best shooters of all-time coming off screens, is anyone’s guess.

Kentucky Wildcats

Starters (all stats per 48 minutes, through 3/28):

Rajon Rondo, Celtics: 13.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 14.5 assists, 0.2 blocks, 3.0 steals
Tayshaun Prince, Pistons: 20.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.8 blocks, 0.5 steals
John Wall, Wizards: 20.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 10.8 assists, 0.6 blocks, 2.1 steals
Patrick Patterson, Rockets: 17.6 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.3 blocks, 1.1 steals
DeMarcus Cousins, Kings: 24.0 points, 14.7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.4 blocks, 1.6 steals

Missed the cut: Eric Bledsoe, Clippers; Keith Bogans, Bulls; Chuck Hayes, Rockets; Jamaal Magloire, Heat; Jodie Meeks, Sixers; Nazr Mohammed, Thunder; Daniel Orton, Magic (injured)

Team synopsis: A pretty young Kentucky squad, which of course is the trend for John Calipari‘s one-and-done factory in Lexington these days. It’s hard to find a more dynamic backcourt than Rondo and Wall, while both Cousins and Patterson can get on the boards with the best. Prince gives them some veteran leadership, and maybe playing in a competition like this would help him forget a dismal season in Detroit. Some might have Hayes over Patterson in the lineup, but Patterson’s offense gives him the edge.

How they got here: The only lower seed to win in the Sweet 16, Kentucky upset Arizona to advance by a vote of 61%-39%.

All Ball’s take:An interesting matchup. Perhaps it would be different if Gay and Butler were available, but you gotta play who’s available. One team features no point guards, but a collection of very talented shooting guards (UConn), while the other features two point guards not particularly known for their perimeter skills (Rondo and Wall), and no shooting guards. A contrast of styles in the post as well, as Emeka (all defense, no offense) goes up against DeMarcus (all O, no D). Frankly, this battle could go either way.

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  1. Kevin says:

    Lol, same matchup as final four

  2. NDub says:

    Kentucky, because the basketball IQ of 2 point guards is better than the IQ of none. The Huskies would rely on shots too much. Though Okafor is the best big man mentioned, you never know, Cousins can beat him in iso.