The Final Four.
Sigh. It's more than a little bittersweet. Yes, this weekend is the culmination of one of my favorite events, but basketball has been a bit stressful for us of late, so I'm a bit mixed.
Still, there are games today, so let's move forward. March is over and we find ourselves at the end of the road in Atlanta with four final teams in the NCAA Tournament. College basketball's Hadj ends in the Georgia Dome this weekend, and Wichita State, Louisville, Michigan, and Syracuse are the surviving contenders for the Holy Grail.
Bet you didn't have these four in your brackets. By the way, you can see our latestBruins Nation Bracket results here.
Here are today's matchups...
#9 Wichita State (30-8) vs #1 Louisville (33-5) 3:09 pm PT, CBS
Shockers, Shockers! to find that Wichita State is playing in here! When the brackets were announced, a lot of fans thought that any one of several teams could emerge from the West (sigh) Region. Of course, we were thinking tOSU or Wisconsin or Kansas State or even...New Mexico (?!?) could possibly upset Gonzaga in that corner of the bracket, but only the truly blindest or most devout Wichita State fans saw the 9th seeded Shockers getting this far. Bad news, the lowest seed to win the tourney was #8 Villanova in 1985. Wichita State Coach Gregg Marshall, who earned a call from our AD but was too busy winning for Guerrero to wait on (sigh), has his team playing tough physical defense and shooting lights out from 3 land. They've already erased a #1 seed in this tournament. For their efforts, they are about to get THE #1 seed.
Waiting for Wichita St in Atlanta is the tournament's #1 overall seed and the seemingly invincible Louisville Cardinals. The Cards have cruised through the tournament with scarcely a blip. Even when reserve guard Kevin Ware suffered one of the more gruesome injuries on live TV (geez, haven't you ever seen a tibia before?) the team steadied and pulled away from mighty Duke in the regional final. Adidas' (sigh) attempt to capitalize on the injury by selling shirts with Ware's number 5 on them was not remotely cool, but if Louisville's talent and tough frenetic defense aren't more than enough, Ware's inspiring presence with the team this weekend should be more than enough motivation to get Rick Pitino's (sigh) team past the overachieving Shockers.
#4 Michigan (30-7) vs #4 Syracuse (30-9) 8:49 pm PT CBS
In week 12 this season, Michigan was #2 and Syracuse was #3 in the national polls. It looked then like this meeting was just a matter of time. Then both teams had some hiccups in the latter half of their seasons that saw them slip down to 4 seeds (sigh) on Selection Sunday. No matter. Sometimes you can go back again.
Speaking of defense, here is Syracuse, who has ripped off the old Denver Broncos' Orange Crush moniker from the 70's, and deservedly so. Jim Boeheim's team plays the same 2-3 zone (sigh) they have played forever, but they are particularly great at it this season, thanks to a roster of really long and really quick and really athletic players. They make it very hard to get inside or find the open spots outside for jumpers, and they have held their tourney opponents to abysmal shooting percentages and point totals so far. It will take a special player to break down the Syracuse D.
Enter Michigan sophomore guard Trey Burke. He was named the AP Player of the Year and if anyone can figure out how to get in and around the Syracuse zone, it might as well be him. Burke has driven the Wolverines' fast paced and high scoring (sigh) team all year and even more so in the tournament. While Syracuse has done it with D, Michigan has been all O, increasing their already high season scoring average to almost 80 ppg in the tournament. So this will be a pretty fascinating matchup between two contrasting styles of play.
Today's winners will meet on Monday night for the national title. Yes. Once again, sigh.
This is our Final Four open thread. Chat, rant, cheer, analyze, grouse, sigh, or just talk basketball right here. If you are following the thread here, please keep an eye on our baseball team meeting OSU this afternoon and our gymnasts competing in the NCAA Regionals this evening. (Now there's something...Yeah!! GO BRUINS!)