A great NCAA Tournament keeps getting better
The regional final round of the NCAA Tournament usually is a dud. We go from 16 games a day the first two days down to just two games a day during the Elite Eight round, and upsets usually are rare.
But not Saturday. West Virginia beat Kentucky and Butler beat Kansas State. Which means a great NCAA Tournament just keeps getting better. Here’s what Saturday meant:
1. A five or six seed will play for the NCAA title. Butler will play the Michigan State-Tennessee winner in the Final Four. That means a five (Butler or Michigan State) or a six seed (Tennessee) will play in the championship game.
2. At most, just one No. 1 seed will make the Final Four. Duke’s Blue Devils can uphold the honor of the bluebloods today against third-seeded Baylor.
3. If Baylor and Tennessee win today, no school in the Final Four will have been in the NCAA semifinals in more than 50 years. Butler and Tennessee haven’t been there ever. Baylor hasn’t been in 60 years. West Virginia last made it in 1959. That’s 51 years. What a country.
4. Three teams nicknamed Wildcats were seeded first or second. All are gone. Kentucky, Kansas State and Villanova.
5. I finally got the best of President Obama. My bracket got blown up a week ago; his has remained strong but no more. I got one Final Four team right — West Virginia. Obama played the Wildcat card (Kentucky, ‘Nova and K-State) plus Kansas. All are gone.
6. No league will have two Final Four teams. Already in are the Horizon League and the Big East. The four leagues represented today are the Big 10, SEC, ACC and Big 12.
7. Butler making the Final Four is a glorious thing. And fitting. George Mason stole all the mid-major thunder when it made the Final Four a few years ago, but George Mason was a lightning strike. Schools like Xavier, Gonzaga and Butler have been fighting the good fight for more than a decade, chasing the great dream. It’s good to see one of the long-time flagbearers reach the Promised Land.
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