When the ball is thrown up in the air tonight to begin the 2008 Final Four in San Antonio, it ought to be special. Why? This is no ordinary year, as it’s the first time ever all four #1 seeds have made it this far. Combine the quality of these teams with an electric atmosphere, and it has a chance to be the best three games, on any level, collegiate basketball has ever seen. UCLA, Memphis, North Carolina, and Kansas- all perennial powerhouses with traditions of excellence. Not only is each team loaded with talent up and down their roster, from freshmen to seniors, but the four coaches combined, Ben Howland (293), John Calipari (374), Roy Williams (560), and Bill Self (347), have racked up an astounding 1,574 combined victories in their coaching careers. Rose (MEM), Collison (UCLA), Rush (KAN), Lawson (NC), Douglas-Roberts (MEM), Love (UCLA), Chalmers (KAN), Hansbrough (NC), Dorsey (MEM), Mbah a Moute (UCLA), Collins (KAN), and Ellington (NC) are just a short list of names you will hear constantly tonight, along with lots more; each of these teams can go 8, 9, even 10 deep if they need to. The outcomes? North Carolina and Memphis are playing extremely well, probably the best they’ve played all year judging by their performances last weekend. Not that Kansas or UCLA are slouches by any means, but they have definitely had their case of the hick-ups on their way. I’ll take North Carolina and Memphis tonight, with North Carolina cutting the nets down when it’s all said and done. Regardless of what the outcomes are, because unfortunately someone has to lose, cherish tonight, you may never see four teams this good paired together in a long, long time.
Update- 11:20 P.M. Once again my prognosticating abilities are put to shame. The common theme in this tournament seems to have been, “one team blows out the other, regardless of seeding.” I guess I can’t feel too bad though; I don’t think anyone expected Kansas to blow out UNC by 18, and Memphis to toss around UCLA by 15. Who knows, maybe the game of the year will end up being Western Kentucky’s dramatics against Drake in the first round. Who woulda thunk it.
Update- Monday- 10:55 P.M. Congratulations to both teams on their great seasons. The reason Kansas won it, 75-68? Well, just ask John Calipari how he feels about backing his team on the free-throw shooting now. Douglas-Roberts and Rose missed three from the charity stripe in the final minute of regulation, leading up to the game-tying three by Mario Chalmers. And as the phrase goes, “if you give them (Kansas) an inch, they’ll take a mile.”