March Madness: The Final Four
Published: Friday, March 30, 2012 - 9:26am
Sorry for not posting recently. I just couldn't muster up enough courage to write after my bracket was crushed after the second round. No one knew both Duke and Missouri, two teams that were given a two seed and were trendy Final Four picks, would lose on the same day to 15 seeds Lehigh and Norfolk State respectively. Also who could have predicted that 13 seed Ohio and 11 seed NC State would wind up in the Sweet Sixteen?
This tournament has been crazy. Despite this, there are no Cinderellas left. Ohio came one free throw short of a regulation victory over one seed North Carolina. Then in overtime the Tar Heels dominated and Ohio's dream of an Elite Eight appearance went down the drain. That same night the North Carolina State Wolfpack blew a chance to knock off two seed Kansas and advance to the Elite Eight. Trailing by a single possession for the final minute, the Wolfpack made miscue after miscue before finally coming up just three points short.
Back in the third round of the tournament, VCU lost by two to Indiana. In a game in which they dominated and almost led start to finish, the twelve seed Rams couldn't quite finish of the four seed Hoosiers. However, although the hated Hoosiers from Bloomington advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, Illinois fans believed they had something to celebrate about. With VCU's loss, Illinois could begin to pursue the charismatic coach of the Rams Shaka Smart. Within hours of Bruce Weber's firing, Smart emerged as the fan favorite to fill the vacancy.
Just last year, Smart signed an eight year deal with the Rams that would make it difficult for the U of I to pick him up. In the end Smart chose to stay at VCU instead of going to the University of Illinois which offered to double his salary because of his love for the community, the university, and for the sake of his family. Now the U of I's affection has been transferred unto Ohio coach John Groche who has become an instant celebrity after Ohio's surprise Sweet Sixteen run.
Now the Final four is set. One one seed remains, two two seeds also remain along with one 4 seed. Kentucky, the overall number 1 seed is still the odds on favorite to win it all. On March 31st, Kentucky will face its arch rival, Louisville, for a chance to vie for a national championship. On the other side of the bracket Ohio State will face Kansas for the same right.
Personally, I really don't like think Louisville has a chance against the high-powered Wildcats with star freshman and Naismith favorite Anthony Davis. Kentucky will roll into the championship matchup, although as an underdog guy, I'll be rooting for Rick Pitino and the four seed Cardinals. On the other side, I see Ohio State advancing. Aaron Craft and Jared Sullinger are a tough combo to outplay and frankly, Kansas has played miserably and should have been eliminated way earlier in the tournament. That would leave a rematch of a Sweet Sixteen game from last year's tournament, where the four seed Wildcats upset the number one overall seed Buckeyes.
A big game in the Big Easy between the two most dominate bigs in the game (Anthony Davis and Jared Sullinger) is a naturally appealing theme for a national title game. We're at the Final Four and the madness is almost over!