Kevin Keatts jokes about the upcoming trend of traditional big men after the Final Four


Kevin Keatts knows college basketball follows trends. Lately, the trend has been toward more positionless basketball and versatile big men.

This time the Final Four is turning that trend on its head. With NC State's DJ Burns, Purdue's Zach Edey and UConn's Donovan Clingan, the basketball world will see some traditional big men in Phoenix.

“Well, I think now everyone probably needs to go out and get a big guy. These are trends. “The trend was that no one would play with their back to the basket,” Keatts said. “We’re in the Final Four, three guys took their teams to the Final Four because of the way they played.”

Burns has particularly improved his program, scoring at least 16+ points five times since the start of the ACC Tournament. He scored 29 points in a stunning Elite 8 win over Duke.

Now there's a showdown between Burns and the Wolfpack with Edey, a player who Keatts admits keeps him up at night. Edey has scored at least 23+ points and 14+ rebounds in every NCAA Tournament game this season, including a career-high 40 points against Tennessee and 2 games with 30+ points and 15+ rebounds. According to ESPN Bet, Purdue enters the showdown as a 9.5-point favorite.

“I mean, all three of these guys are really good. I'm excited about DJ Burns, great touch, left-handed, willing passer. Of course we will play against Zach Edey. If you ask me who’s keeping you up at night these days, it’s Zach Edey,” Keatts admitted.

“He plays at a high level. He can shoot the ball. We have to get him off this trail. He lives in this alley. He is really talented. He’s gotten a lot better because he passes the ball a lot.”

Clingan, UConn's 7-foot-2 sophomore and the other traditional big man in the Final Four, had a particularly dominant performance against Illinois. He delivered 22 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks and 3 steals as the Huskies advanced past the Illini to the Final Four.

Nate Oats' Alabama squad uses 6-foot-10 forward Grant Nelson, but he's a more versatile forward for the Crimson Tide. While Nelson will play a key role against UConn, he isn't afraid to step out of line and step up the defense while the rest of the big men involved are traditionally deployed in the post.

Of these four big men, Edey leads the group (and all players listed) in FanDuel's chances of becoming the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player. Edey is listed at +195, while Clingan has the second best odds at +340. Burns (+2900) and Nelson (+10000) don't have much of a chance of taking home the honor, but that could be because NC State and Alabama are big underdogs in the semifinals.