Final Four Preview and Random Notes

April 5th, 2008
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For college basketball junkies, this weekend is the final fling in what has been a very exciting basketball season. Not since the NCAA started seeding close to thirty years ago, and certainly not since there was the expansion to 64 teams nearly twenty-five years ago, have we seen four #1 seeded teams in the Final Four. Is this the best Final Four ever? That's very debateable and perhaps a better analysis could be done after the last game is played. I did hear something extremely interesting yesterday morning on Mike and Mike In The Morning. They felt that the first round losers in the NCAA tournament should be allowed to play in the NIT tournament, thusly expanding that tournament to 64 teams. Is that overkill? Yes. But the big point made was that teams with really no chance of winning that first round game could have a better chance of continuing their season in another tournament. It may not hurt to try this a time or two to see. I bet it would work better than most might think. Quick Final Four Preview: I won't pontificate on all things Final Four; by now, everyone has heard all they want to hear. Two teams I had been touted as merely Elite Eight teams up until the brackets were released were North Carolina and Memphis. I actually picked UNC to reach the Final Four when I did all of my bracket contests (with one exception). I correctly picked three of the four; the lone mistake: Memphis. I just wasn't sold on a lot of things, especially the free throw shooting. They really have been more impressive than I ever gave them credit for, especially lately. It's very clear they are on a mission this year and their coach has them very well prepared. I picked UCLA to win it all and I'm not feeling great about it now. UCLA is in their third Final Four in a row, and they seem destined to win. It's going to be tough for them, but I still have to stick to my guns with UCLA. Besides, defense wins championships..... I started getting really impressed with UNC after their win against Duke. That could have been more about what Duke wasn't (and I had to see that until my trip to DC), rather than what UNC was. Then UNC won the ACC impressively and basically every game after that. Their "Super Bowl"...errr...Roy Williams bowl... is the Kansas game. Kansas is off the hump for finally meeting expections and getting to this point. Kansas (and UCLA) has been on my radar basically all year and I think they pull off a huge one tonight. I feel UNC is more favored than the oddsmakers say and I think, like UCLA, they surprise everyone. In the end, UCLA wins it all, which I think will be an accomplishment, considering who's in the Final Four this year. Importantly, I think it would be neat to win for their old Coach John Wooden. Other Notes: -I wanted to expand on an earlier post about George Mason coach Jim Larranaga and other coaching vacancies. This week, Coach L was courted heavily by his alma mater Providence College of the Big East. For some connected, this was no surprise. I was actually surprised he decided to stay. I'm glad he did, because I think it makes a statement on two fronts. One- a coach living to his contractual committment. I think that's very important in this day, where coaches leave without regard to their contracts. They are contracts for a reason, right? Two- it says to the student athletes that promises to them mean something. I think it also says that Mason believes in making college basketball a quality program with a quality guy for years to come. For more on this, check this out: Indiana filled its vacancy by hiring away Marquette's Tom Crean. I guess i'm wondering in all of this is: How does Marquette feel? What do they get from Indiana? Does a contract mean anything? I know it's the nature of sport today, but still?? Anyway, I won't ruin Final Four Weekend by ranting about freshman leaving; that will come at another time. Enjoy the games! I will update later tonight.