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Give Cowboys the edge over Yellow Jackets


More on Final Four from Vitale: Connecticut-Duke preview

One of the key questions about this national semifinal is: Can Georgia Tech get another brilliant performance from sophomore guard Jarrett Jack? Against Kansas in the regional final, Jack carried the Yellow Jackets on his back and would not let his team falter. He made sure Georgia Tech would get a W and a trip to the Final Four.

Tony Allen
Big 12 player of the year Tony Allen averaged 16.1 ppg and 5.6 rpg in the regular season.
With junior guard BJ Elder on the sideline with a gimpy ankle, Jack was aggressive right from the start. Also, 7-foot-1 junior center Luke Schenscher was an unsung hero, and his size could give Oklahoma State some trouble inside. Schenscher was really vital in his interior defense against Kansas forward Wayne Simien.

Georgia Tech held off a Kansas team that has a winner's mentality at tournament time. Now comes a Final Four test against another Big 12 power, Oklahoma State.

The Yellow Jackets' defense has been stifling at times this season. Their athleticism and toughness on the defensive end were factors in their early-season blowout of Connecticut at Madison Square Garden in the Preseason NIT. Georgia Tech has really come together under coach Paul Hewitt. Remember, Tech is the only team at this Final Four that was unranked in the preseason polls.

Oklahoma State has Mr. Clutch, junior guard John Lucas, the transfer from Baylor who hit the game-winning shot against Saint Joseph's. It was something special to see when Lucas ran over and hugged his dad, former Maryland guard and NBA coach John Lucas.

Coach Eddie Sutton's Cowboys can really defend -- just ask Pittsburgh and St. Joe's. They are also capable of scoring. Oklahoma State led the nation in field-goal shooting, hitting 'em at better than 51 percent.

The Cowboys will be challenged by the Yellow Jackets, one of two ACC squads chasing the title (along with Duke). Along with Lucas, the Cowboys feature senior guard Tony Allen, the Big 12 player of the year. These backcourt mates will wait to see if Elder is a factor.

You can get by occasionally without your star, as teams can rally and respond with everyone stepping up a notch. But it's tough to play without a key cog in your offense against such an impressive defensive club. Yes, it's tough to play at a moment like this without such an important member of your offensive scheme.

Georgia Tech is the only team at this Final Four that was unranked in the preseason polls.
I give the edge in this contest to Oklahoma State. The Cowboys will minimize their turnovers. And Sutton will finally make it to the championship game after falling shot with Arkansas in 1978 (with the triplets of Sidney Moncrief, Marvin Delph and Ron Brewer) and Oklahoma State in 1995 (with Bryant "Big Country" Reeves).

Sutton has said he owes it all to legendary coach Henry Iba, who gave him a chance to return to his alma mater after the sad ending of his tenure at Kentucky.

The ultimate prize is the gold trophy, the NCAA title. Sutton will get his chance to play for the title Monday night.

Dick Vitale coached the Detroit Pistons and the University of Detroit in the 1970s before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979 (he's been an ESPN analyst ever since). Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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