Today's game

Published: Saturday, April 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
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Florida's Al Horford passes the ball to Corey Brewer, at left, against the defense of Georgetown on Friday night.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun
How they advanced
Florida made the Final Four with a 75-62 victory over top-seed Villanova. George Mason advanced with an 86-84 overtime win against top-seed UConn.
Point guard
Florida: Taurean Green (6-0, 170, so., 13.4 ppg, 4.8 apg)
George Mason: Tony Skinn (6-1, 175, sr., 12.6 ppg, 3.5 rpg)
Analysis: Green (27 percent from the floor, 31.6 percent from 3-point range) hasn't shot well this tournament but has been steady in running the team. His assist-to-turnover ratio in four tournament games is 15 to 10. Skinn (54 steals) has quick hands and has shot well of late, averaging 10.7 points in three tournament games.
Advantage: EvenShooting guard
Florida: Lee Humphrey (6-2, 192, jr., 10.7 ppg, 1.9 apg)
George Mason: Lamar Butler (6-2, 170, sr., 18.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg)
Analysis: Humphrey, Florida's best perimeter defender, has hit six of his last 20 from 3-point range (30 percent) after sinking 6-of-8 in Florida's NCAA Tournament opening round game against South Alabama. Butler is on a scoring tear, averaging 16.0 points through four games.
Advantage: George MasonSmall forward
Florida: Corey Brewer (6-8, 185, so., 12.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
George Mason: Folarin Campbell (6-4, 200, 11.0 ppg, 4.3 apg)
Analysis: Both Brewer and Campbell are adept passers with the ability to score. Campbell leads George Mason in assists, with Brewer second in assists at 3.3 per game. Brewer has a size edge here and is better defensively.
Advantage: FloridaPower forward
Florida: Joakim Noah (6-11, 227, so., 14.2, 7.1 rpg)
George Mason: Will Thomas (6-7, 220, so., 11.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg)
Analysis: In a speed vs. size match up, Noah will try to wear Thomas down with his ability to get up and down the court and finish in transition. The broad-shouldered Thomas gives up four inches but won't be intimidated in the post. Expect some occasional help and switching with teammate Jai Lewis.
Advantage: FloridaCenter
Florida: Al Horford (6-9, 242, so., 11.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg)
George Mason: Jai Lewis (6-7, 275, sr., 13.7 ppg, 7.7 rpg)
Analysis: Horford has two double-doubles in four tournament games in bringing as much energy in the post as Noah. Lewis is tough to move inside and has been the constant in containing big men such as North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough, Connecticut's Josh Boone and Michigan State's Paul Davis.
Advantage: EvenCoaches
Florida: Billy Donovan (224-98 in 10 seasons at Florida, 259-118 overall)
George Mason: Jim Larranaga (166-104 in nine seasons at George Mason, 364-273 overall)
Analysis: Larranaga has employed unconventional methods, including the use of renowned sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella, to get his team to believe it could play with the big boys. In 19 years as a Division I coach, Larranaga has pulled some tricks out of his hat, including a 1-2-2 zone defense that flustered North Carolina in the second round. Donovan is making his second Final Four appearance, the only coach of the four teams that has been here before.
Advantage: FloridaBench
Chris Richard and Adrian Moss give Florida some insurance in case Noah or Horford get in first-half foul trouble. The same can't be said for the guards. Florida struggled getting the ball up the court when Green sat out late in the first half with two fouls. George Mason is thin, with junior swingman Gabe Norwood the leading scorer off the bench at 3.4 points. Six-foot-five freshman forward Sammy Hernandez is the first option off the bench if either Lewis or Thomas get in foul trouble.
  • Advantage: FloridaIntangibles
    George Mason has been a historic story this week in being the first 11-seed to reach the tournament since LSU in 1986. It's also the first school from a mid-major conference to reach the Final Four, perhaps a sign of things to come. The attention has somewhat overshadowed Florida's first Final Four appearance since 2000 and third in school history. Stage fright could be another factor. George Mason will be playing its first games in an expansive dome after playing the first two rounds in conventional arenas. Florida has the experience of having played in the Metrodome last week.
  • Advantage: FloridaControlling the paint
    A factor in Florida's run through the NCAA Tournament has been its ability to score and defend inside. Joakim Noah and Al Horford have combined for four double-doubles in scoring and rebounding in four NCAA Tournament games. Both will have a size advantage over Jai Lewis (6-7) and Will Thomas (6-7), but the pair of George Mason forwards have held their own against the taller frontlines of Connecticut, North Carolina and Michigan State.
    Protecting the perimeter
    George Mason is shooting 50 percent (17 of 34) from 3-point range in its last two games. Florida has done a good job in its current nine-game winning streak of defending the perimeter, holding teams to 26.5 percent from beyond the arc during that span.
    Handling pressure
    George Mason can throw out a variety of defenses, such as the 1-2-2 zone, in an effort to keep Florida uncomfortable. Florida nearly unraveled at the end of the first half against Villanova, but has done a better job taking care of the basketball of late, averaging 12.3 turnovers in four NCAA Tournament games.
    How the game is called
    With limited depth, Florida can't afford to get in foul trouble. Neither can George Mason. Corey Brewer was forced to sit the last 12 minutes of the first half with two fouls and will need to play a bit smarter today. A clutch and grab fest could work in favor of George Mason, who will need to rely on contact in order to contain the taller Noah and Horford.
    Setting the tempo
    Florida will want to get on the break early, allowing Noah and Horford the ability to wear down George Mason's inside duo of Thomas and Lewis. The Gators are at their best in transition, generating offense from their defense with high-percentage shots.
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