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Monday, March 29, 2010

The Final 4: Almost heaven, but not quite yet.

Well, it's here. The Final Four. The Holy Grail of college basketball. We have a #1 Seed, a #2 Seed, and a couple of #5 seeds that crashed the party. Me? I can't wait. I'm (hopefully) heading out on Friday, and if all goes well I'll witness two good friends get exactly what they deserve - a National Championship. But my allegiances are well known and I won't bore you to tears with all that. Instead, some random thoughts about this weekend:
  • Did the NCAA Selection Committee grease the rails for a Duke trip to the Final 4 or not? They were given maybe the weakest #2 seed ever (Villanova, losers of 5 of 7 going in), an upstart #3 in Baylor and a #4 seed without it's best player in Purdue. By far the easiest road to Indy. They've won every game by a large margin, but that ain't the Arkansas- Pine Bluff Golden Lions waiting for you this Saturday, boys.
  • Sticking with Duke and their "advantages", I was in Minneapolis in 2001 when Maryland was up 17 at the half only to see the Dookies come storming back due to some very questionable officiating. Arizona and Michigan State were also there, and everybody except Duke fans were burying the zebras.
  • How the hell does Tom Izzo get the Final 4 as often as he does? Do you realize that every player he's recruited has been to a Final 4? How's that for a recruiting tool? Six in 12 years? Mercy. Plus, he got there without Kalin Lucas. Of course, he only had to outwit nitwit Bruce Pearl in the Regional Finals, which is no big challenge . . . unless you're Thad Matta.
  • Speaking of Matta, just a few things. First of all, save me the garbage about Evan Turner being fouled on that last shot. He wasn't touched. I'm sorry to say it, but it was all ball. Did I wish it would've gone in? Hell yes. But he wasn't touched. In addition, for the life of me I can't figure out why Matta never subbed this year. He can say that "my guys are conditioned to roll" but the fact is they were gassed at the end of that game. It seems so simple to me. Send a guy in for a minute 2-3 times during each half. How could that hurt you? It gets everybody involved and helps team chemistry. Thad was forced to insert Jeremie Simmons into the lineup last Friday, and what does he do? Hits 3 of 4 treys. Second half he doesn't see the floor as Jon Diebler was going 1 for whatever for the game. Sigh. And the Buck's inside game? Don't get me started.
  • Butler is a pretty good story, no? A mid-major making the Final 4 only 7-miles from their hometown, blah-blah-blah. And Lucas Oil Arena is a great name huh? Sounds like someplace a minor league hockey team would play. Anyway, something tells me they're going to have their hands full with The Izzos this weekend.
  • And finally . . . West Virginia. I know, I promised I wouldn't bore you with my Mountaineer loyalties. But now that I have you reeled in, I must be homest. I lied. Nobody, but nobody, deserves a National Championship more than Bob Huggins and Billy Hahn. Billy has been through more adversity in the last 6-years than anybody I know. From the whole Lasalle fiasco to his wife Kathi's health problems, he's perservered and fought through it all with his head held high. I'm sure basketball doesn't seem as important as it once did to him, but you'd never know it by his work ethic. Billy Hahn is as good a person as I've ever known. I can't put it any clearer. And Huggs? He was screwed at Cincinnati, pure and simple. Nobody cares about his players more than Huggs, and it's taken him just 3-years to get his alma mater, the school, the state and the town he loves to the pinnacle of college basketball. Unbelievable job by he and his staff at West Virginia.
Well, I guess you know who I'll be cheering for on Saturday. It sure as hell won't be Coach K's Dookies. Hey, Izzo's had his titles, Butler's Brad Stevens (what is he, 33?) will surely get other chances when he bolts for a bigger school, which he surely will. That leaves Bob Huggins and Billy Hahn, two guys who, as much or more than anybody, deserve this.

Man, I can't tell you how badly I want it to happen.

1 comment:

  1. Huggins and Hahn are two legends of college basketball. True fans know what Hahn did at Maryland. They haven't been the same since he left. I agree he deserves the best!


Man, that chick beside me is smokin'.

Imagine waking up and seeing this on ESPN. I look like I'm having a stroke back there. Good Lord.

Imagine waking up and seeing this on ESPN. I look like I'm having a stroke back there. Good Lord.

3:30 AM, after the Louisville game.

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