This is far and away the most intriguing Final Four in memory. And I’ve been paying attention to these things since the mid 50s, when it was just the non-televised NCAA semi-finals and finals on consecutive nights, and Bill Russell and his Gang of Dons were ruling the roost.
There’s a David Division: Butler and Virginia Commonwealth.
There’s a Goliath Division: Kentucky and Connecticut.
Monday’s championship game, much to the glee of every hoops fan save for Billy Packer and those who live and die with the two teams that lose Saturday, will feature a school from each division. Got to bring in Vince McMahon to do the intros.
There’s a two time title coach: Jim Calhoun.
There’s a two time vacated coach: John Calipari.
There are two wet behind the ears mentors, whose total age combined doesn’t equal #1 above.
There are monster conference teams. There are meager conference teams.
And, assessing all the +s and -s, none of the teams can be discounted as a legit contender now, nor can any of them be heralded as head and shoulders above the rest.
UConn has Calhoun, who knows how to win the whole shebang, the best guard in the country and undefeated in neutral cout tourney games this season. The Huskies finished 9th in the Big East.
Kentucky has tradition, the most fans, a winning blend of age and youth and the best tourney resume so far. The Wildcats didn’t win their division of the SEC.
VCU has seniors, a coach with perspective, a chip on its shoulder, plus major mo and mojo working. The Rams were already packing their bags for spring break at Padre Island when it got a bid.
Butler has the only group who have competed under this spotlight, Hinkle Fieldhous, a coach wise beyond his tender years and an inexplicable team presence. The Bulldogs had to win their league tourney to score an invite to the Dance.
UK is a legit favorite, but it’s a tenuous hold. VCU would seem the most over its head, then again it has been throttling foes, including Kansas. UConn and Butler are almost impossible to figure out. But they’ll be lacing them up tomorrow evening.
Frankly, Scarlett, I haven’t a clue what’s going to happen.
But I’ll be watching the American Way. On HD. With friends. Sitting in a recliner. Eating Impellizzeri’s Pizza and drinking my beverage of choice. And wondering why Gus Johnson isn’t doing the play by play, with Len Elmore and Reggie Miller alongside.
– Seedy K