Sunday, March 30, 2008

Final First: Four #1 seeds advance to Final 4

North Carolina will face Kansas and Memphis will take on UCLA in an historic Final 4 in San Antonio

I know they call it March madness, but no one realized this year the term would apply because the tournament actually went according to plan. For the first time ever all four number one seeds have advanced to the Final 4, setting up what could be one of the best Saturdays in college basketball history.

One the one side you've got the top seeded North Carolina Tarheels, led by former Kansas coach Roy Williams, going up against those very Jayhawks that Williams abandoned for his beloved Tarheels five years ago, a storyline in itself that will be beaten to death by ESPN in the next week. Factor in the Player of the Year Tyler Hansbrough, who basically single-handedly led the Heels to the win in the Sweet 16 contest against the pesky Louisville Cardinals with his clutch 2nd half shooting, and a deep, talented and athletic group of kids from Kansas and you've got the making of an instant classic.

In the other game we will see the mighty Memphis Tigers, who play a dominating style of basketball on both ends of the court, battle the team many have picked to win it all outside of UNC, the UCLA Bruins. An interesting aspect of this contest will be the fact that both coaches, Memphis' John Calipari and the Bruins' Ben Howland, just became exclusive members of the fraternity of coaches who have led their clubs to 3 consecutive 30-win seasons. With multi-talented athletes all over the court and two capable courtside directors calling the shots, this game, too, has the makings of a classic.

Which most likely means both games will suck.

Like most of the games in the Sweet 16.

In a season where upsets occurred weekly and everyone thought there was a chance that any of 10 teams could cut down the nest, its ironic that the final 4 comes down to the four teams that have been at or near the top of the rankings all year.

The only upset this March was that there were no upsets.

Okay, sure, Davidson knocking off #2 seed Georgetown in the second round was THE upset of the tourney, but looking at the two teams now and realizing how good the little school that could really was and how mediocre Georgetown actually is, that upset seems less monumental and more "I shoulda seen it coming."

Unfortunately for Davidson they couldn't keep the streak going and knock off Goliath (Kansas) in the Elite Eight yesterday. Though they battled the Jayhawks right to the very end before a desperation three at the buzzer went wide, the hundreds of fans from the tiny college north of Charlotte home who got a free trip to Detroit courtesy of rich boosters weren't able to crash the party and become the first 10 seed to advance to the Final 4.

Instead it will be another first- the first time all four #1s make it to the last round- something that is really amazing when you think of it considering these seeds are supposed to make it there every year.

Just goes to show you what the selection committee knows.

And speaking of selections, although my bracket crashed and burned when the Volunteers schoolyard style of ball was bested by Louisville's version of the And 1Mix Tape, my 11-year-old son now resides at the top of the bracket heap, needing Carolina and Memphis to advance to the championship in order for him to claim the grand prize.

Now that's what I call madness, baby!

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