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The Final Four Open Thread - Something Formerly Relevant at UCLA

Four schools, their fans, and about a thousand talking heads are looking forward to the Final Four games, starting this Saturday night at 6:30 Eastern. Alas, UCLA is no longer one of those four schools.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

To the surprise of all the experts - all except our own UCLA 11 - the final four consists of Wisconsin versus Kentucky and Michigan State versus Duke. As you might expect, the experts are all clawing for air time and print time to explain why one team or the other is going to win the whole thing. Just remember that every expert you see pontificating is looking up at the soles of UCLA11's shoes on the ladder of bracket success.

Let's start with the article from SBN Galactic Headquarters which predicts that the Final Four will be great. Actually, this is really the only article you need to read if you're at all unfamiliar with any of the teams. I haven't checked to see how the SBN bracket expert compares with UCLA11's, but I assume it similar. Ergo, the opinions in this article are entitled to greater respect than those of the network pundits, whose deep analyses are, to use a technical phrase, doo-doo.

The "Game of the Century," April 4, 2015 at 8:30 p.m. edition, is going to be quite a show. A Sea of Blue describes it quite accurately as "Something's Gotta Give." They demonstrate that the Badgers have the best offense in the country, and it will test the ‘Cats defense.

Bucky's Fifth Quarter had a Q&A with A Sea of Blue about the game, and it's pretty interesting. Wisconsin is well aware that it will be the underdog, and it looks like the Badgers are getting fired up. I will stay strictly neutral, and state only that I hope that the team with the most actual students on the team wins.

With Kentucky appearing to be the center of the basketball universe, we need to remember that there's another game.  Dang.  Who's in that one again? Oh, yeah. Duke and Michigan State (at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.) The guys at The Only Colors start on a high note and then continue with their early look at the Final Four.

The Detroit Free Press has a nice story on Coach Izzo which has this little tidbit:

Nobody is better on the short turnaround — Thursday to Saturday, or Friday to Sunday — than the Spartans' head man. Izzo is 20-4 in the second game of any given weekend in the NCAA tournament, including 13-1 in the round of 32, the best winning percentage of all time.

That's a pretty good record for Mr. March, but not good enough according to the folks at Duke Basketball Report. That piece goes on and on, and looks at all sorts of numbers, but when all is said and done, it appears that the Final Four sometimes extends into April. Mr. March is 3-5 in Final Four games. Oh, yeah, they mention that guy from the West Los Angeles, albeit in passing: "By contrast, Coach K is 12-7 in Final Four games (only Wooden has more Final Four wins) - 4-1 this century." (That's really misleading, when you compare Coach's Final Four record to anyone else's. Coach's record is 21-1, including 18 in a row. What that shows, though, is that UCLA is and has been strictly a past tense team for a long time. Is anyone in Morgan Center listening? Do you even care?

Again, in keeping with the strict neutrality guidelines for games like this, I am going to root for the team with the least douchy coach and the least douchy fans.  You all know what that means.

There are tons of other articles everywhere, including gems about how Coach Krzyzewski has learned to adapt to one-and-dones. Sure, he's done that, and Coach Calipari has perfected that art. Somehow, though, it seems that an article touting how well these guys have learned to work the system should be followed by a series of article on how the people and companies who make the most money have learned to work the system to pay no taxes and somehow still get a big refund. I just don't think that's something to be applauded. Think about how the big shots at the NCAA headquarters would have to take notice if the final four coaches and all their colleagues were to tell the NCAA that something had to be done, because the one-and-done rule was ruining college basketball. I don't think that will happen, though, and next year we'll be looking at the same teams and coaches, with maybe a name or two different.

But we're talking about this year's final four. I suggest that it doesn't matter how the analysis goes, or who the smart people think will win. Strange as it seems, the teams actually show up and play no matter what the talking heads say.  My advice is to sit down on the coach, get something non-alcoholic to drink (says the guy whose liver will make a nice case study for some med student some day), put your feet up, turn the TV on, turn the sound down, and watch the games.  I'm pretty confident that even with the sound off, you'll be able to figure out who won, and you don't have to listen to any commercials. If you must have the sound on, promise you'll turn it off for 60 seconds every time someone describes the game as a "basketball" game. I know most hard core college basketball game might think it's curling without that sort of cutting edge commentary. ("These are two fine basketball teams, Gene.")  Also, turn it off if someone chooses to refer to the game as one of and involving a "bass-ball." Hey, color analyst - there are three syllables. Bass Kett Ball.  It's not "bass-ball."

And that's the news. If you care, who do you think wins the whole thing. I added UCLA as a potential winner, because there's always a chance that some strange rule will come into play and name us champions, sort of like the order of succession of the British Monarchy.