A look at the NCAA tournament thus far as we enter the Final Four.
Who was going to be this year’s Butler? Answer- Butler. Entering the tournament as a No.8 seed, the Bulldogs find a way to win as evident by their wins. After knocking off everyone’s upset darling, Old Dominion on a put back at the buzzer, the Bulldogs beat No.1 seed Pittsburgh of the Big East by one, Wisconsin of the Big Ten by seven and then No.2 seed Florida of the SEC by three. Not bad for a team that lost three games in a row in the Horizon League in early February.
And yes, that’s the same Butler that got smacked 88-73 (it wasn’t that close) by Louisville in the opening game at the Yum Center.
Could their own success have hurt them?. Along with Old Dominion, there were a few other teams that were in constant conversation regarding possible upsets. But it didn’t happen as Belmont, Utah St. and St.Peters all were one and done.
Call them VCU or Virginia Commonwealth, but call them winners. One of the last teams to make the field and one subject to consistent media bashing on Selection Sunday, the Rams responded by knocking off USC of the Pac 10, Georgetown of the Big East and Purdue of the Big Ten by an average of 16 points before advancing to the Elite Eight with a 72-71 win over Florida St. of the ACC.
Obviously not liking games going to the wire, the Rams then ousted No.1 seed Kansas by building a big first half lead and then holding on for a 61-51 victory, advancing to the Final Four.
Which leads me to- Best fan sign seen in the tournament thus far. ‘We Shaka’d The World’, by a VCU fan regarding the Rams success, (coach Shaka Smart) comparing that to Juawan Howard of Michigan’s Fab Five during one of their title rums in the 90’s.
Take a look at the brackets. On the left side, which is the East and West regions, according to the seeds, there was only one upset as No.11 Marquette knocked off No.6 Xavier. Marquette then went on to upset No.3 and Big East foe Syracuse to advance to the Sweet 16 where they fell to North Carolina.
On the right side, the Southwest and Southeast regions. Oh well, that’s where my bracket went to hell as I’m sure most of yours did.
Things seen that shouldn’t be. Yellow shoes. They’re not gold, they’re yellow. And they have no place on a basketball court.
And you have to go back a long time to find what I thought were the ugliest uniforms of all time. That would be the road uniforms worn by Kansas St. during the Rolando Blackman era. If you don’t remember them, they were light purple jerseys with dark purple trunks. Numbers and lettering were a combination of dark purple and white.
The gray with purple numbers and lettering worn by Kansas St.this year come close. I have never cared for gray uniforms. I’ll let Ohio St. slide since it is one of their school colors, but didn’t Georgetown get a patent on gray uniforms during the Patrick Ewing era?
One of the bigger upsets of the tournament, Morehead St.62 Louisville 61. But was that any bigger than Michigan beating Tennessee by 30 (without making a free throw), or by Duke being totally manhandled in the second half in their loss to Arizona?
And you have to give that team to the east of Louisville credit. Kentucky, after some bad road losses in the SEC responded by winning the SEC Tournament. They probably should have lost in the opening round to Princeton. They didn’t, then responded to avenge last years loss to West Virginia before advancing to the Elite Eight with an upset of overall No.1 seed Ohio St. Avenge win No.2 then followed as Kentucky advanced to the Final Four with a 76-69 victory over North Carolina. It will be the Wildcats first Final Four appearance since 1998.
Which brings us to the Wildcats next opponent and Final Four participant- Connecticut.
UConn, lost 4-of-5 games in late February and early March as they slipped to a No.9 seed in the Big East tournament. In New York, they won five games in as many days in what was said to be the toughest conference in America. That qualified them as a No. 3 seed in the big show where they have defeated Bucknell, Cincinnati and San Diego St. before advancing to the Final Four with a 65-63 victory over Arizona.
One glaring stat in the Elite Eight contests. With the exception of UConn/Arizona, all of the winners were the teams that dominated from the 3-point line, UK (12-22)- NC (3-16). VCU (12-25)- Kansas (2-21). Butler (9-33)- Florida (3-14).
So we have the Final Four set. Kentucky will face UConn while VCU will for the first time in the tournament face a mid major, Butler. UK and UConn squared off back in Maui earlier in the season with the Huskies coming out on top 84-67.
If you picked more than one of these teams in your bracket and are not a fan of them, consider yourself a basketball genius. So who am I going with? The ultimate underdog, VCU. One more thing to consider. Each of these teams is undefeated, when outscoring their opponent.