So the final four is about to start up on Saturday with a rag tag bunch of contenders that no one had in their brackets. For most people, unless by some stroke of genius you had 2 of the 4 actually making it to Indy, you probably stopped checking your online brackets after Kansas and Syracuse got beat (My final four: Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, and Nova. I sure know how to pick them.)
Whether your into the bracket challenges or just like teams whose primary color is blue, you have to admit that the tournament games this year don’t slack in quality. Despite a few clunkers, every game has gone down to the wire and there has been plenty of action to get Gus Johnson riled up. I’m pretty sure if someone pulled a Shaq and shattered the backboard, Gus would use the f word profusely. The tournament this year has been a perfect blend of order and chaos, enough high seeds got knocked out early to give hope to the over defined, overused Cinderella teams, while the other national powers tore through to the regional rounds. This is what college basketball gets right and where college football gets it wrong: Playoffs (cue Jim Mora Sr.). Everyone gets the same chance: win all your games; to the victor go the spoils. That’s the perfect system, right?
Wrong (Who saw that coming??). Let me pose a question: Will anyone be satisfied if MSU or Butler becomes the “National Champion”? No, and no one should consider them a better team than they were a couple weeks ago after their regular season’s ended. For me, the final four is pretty much a bust this year. Everyone had matchups in mind when the bracket was first drawn up. A Kansas-Kentucky showdown; Wall and Cousins vs arguably the deepest team in college. We wanted names like Turner, Aldrich, Reynolds, or Rautins. I would of taken any of the Big East schools verse each other as acceptable. But no, all the big teams were disappointments this postseason, much to the fans/experts/bracketologist nerd’s dismay. I’m disappointed, and the term “National Champion” will go to the team who got hot at the right time. So much for the dream matchups that we had anticipated. But hey, maybe John Wall will play this hard in the NBA? More likely, he’ll end up on the Timberwolves, Grizzlies, or Bobcats (aka College All-Americans from the past 5 years) and you will never hear from him again.
Sidebar: Coach Calipari, in an interview with CBS, said that John Wall in addition to being a great leader and teammate was also, in his opinion, the best student. Now, Calipari must know that he is going to get pinned with another recruiting violation sooner or later because this claim makes absolutely no sense. There is no way that anyone on the Kentucky bball team even goes to class and if they did, they probably major in Dinosaurs. The team’s graduation rate is 31% and you know that Calipari is doing something slimy there. John Chaney should of kicked his ass when he had the chance.
Double Sidebar: If there was a Dinosaurs major, Dr. Alan Grant would teach two classes: an entry level on Velociraptors and a seminar on Trex vision capabilities.
But back to the madness and the teams still available:
Butler Bulldogs (32-4) Wins Over: UTEP, Murray State, Syracuse, Kansas State
Butler, although being the biggest surprise team to make it to Indy, had to go through the toughest road. They knocked out the #1 and #2 seeds in the regional rounds and they did it pretty convincingly. In both games, they led their opponents through out most of the game only to have them come back with a couple minutes to play and then finish them off. Also, considering that they are only a mile away from the final four site makes them the home team and the band wagon for everyone to jump on. Their coach also looks like a student manager which is pretty hilarious.
Michigan State Spartans (28-8) Wins Over: New Mexico State, Maryland, Northern Iowa, Tennessee
MSU shouldn’t play the regular season, because they are the quintessential tournament team. Tom Izzo knows how to get his teams to advance, no matter how bad they look during the year. This team even lost their best player in Lucas and has still advanced to the national semis. They have nothing to lose and are playing like it. And they know how to make it exciting; their win margin in there 4 tournament games is only 13 points.
West Virginia Mountaineers (31-6) Wins Over: Morgan State, Missouri, Washington, Kentucky
WVU is the only team in this final four that really makes any sense. The Big East champions can straight up ball and have the star power that the other teams seem to be lacking. DaSean Butler, Devin Ebanks, Kevin Jones, these guys went 13-5 in the gauntlet which is the Big East and have saved their best basketball for the end of the year. All of the other Big East teams came up small this tournament, but the mountaineers have made up for the entire conference and look to give Huggy Bear his first national championship.
Duke Blue Devils (33-5) Wins Over: Arkansas Pine Bluff, California, Purdue, Baylor
I’m not a Duke fan to the slightest, but they have impressed me during their tournament run. To that extent, I feel like they were in the easiest of the 4 brackets (Villanova was a weak 2 seed and Purdue and Baylor don’t have the teeth that a higher seed should). Come to think of it, I have nothing nice to say about Duke. The problem is that whenever I think of Duke, I think of Dick Vitale. That man irritates me to the extent that if he is calling a game, I change the channel. I will go as far as to say that between listening to Dick Vitale call a college basketball game or watching a whole episode of “Lopez Tonight”, I’d drown myself in a bathtub.
Since I was dead on about who was going to be in the final four, lets pick the winners:
Butler v. MSU
Butler wins a tight one. MSU hasn’t played anyone higher than a 4 seed this tournament and all their games have been close. Also, they have needed last second shots and help from the refs to advance. I don’t think they’ll be so lucky in the national semis and Butler will take advantage.
Duke v. WVU
I like West Virginia because I don’t like Duke. WVU did look pretty sloppy when Joe Mazzula fouled out last game and that could be just the weakness that Coach K could exploit. But I’m biased; WVU wins. Kyle Singler remains ugly.
Butler v. WVU
WVU wins outright. Sure, Butler will have the crowd and all of America behind them wanting an underdog, but WVU is battle tested and legit. If they get to Butler, I don’t think they will have a problem dealing with them. Let’s gooooo, Mountaineers! Let’s goooooo, Drink Some Beers!
Should be a good finish; We’ll see how it all ends.