4 straight thrilling games in a row dating back to Friday night. Will we hit 6 in a row today? I am going with a doubtful. But both games today should be uptempo and exciting. Here is a closer look into the matchups that will give us our final 2 participants for the Final Four.
Virginia Commonwealth vs Kansas: VCU was one of the teams that nobody, including myself, thought deserved an invitation to the madness. Well I hate to say it, I still do not think they deserved the bid, but they have made the most of their opportunity. I mean this team finished 4th in the Colonial Athletic Association for crying out loud. And now they are one stop away from the Final Four? Talk about a real Cinderella Story. I mean hats off to Butler. But their story, though pretty remarkable, especially with the repeat performance, does not really compare to the Rams, who did not even garner a bid in most people’s’ eyes.
The Jayhawks on the other hand, were a favorite to win the whole thing by a good portion of America, including President Obama. They have won 11 straight games, and 17 of 18 overall. Only one team has come within even 15 points of the mighty “Rock Chalk Crew” in the Madness thus far (beat Illinois by 14). This team is motivated, and can really dominate a game in every way on the offensive end of the floor. You better believe that the heartbreaking loss to Northern Iowa in last year’s 2nd round has this team poised to head to Houston. Too much inside presence. Too much athleticism. And too much talent. It was nice while it lasted for the Rams, but by 5PM today, another Cinderella story will have come to a close.
Kentucky vs North Carolina: This game is a dream come true for both the media and cable networks. 2 of the most storied programs in the history of the game going toe to toe for a chance to add another Final Four to the already robust history’s that both of these schools already have. I mean over 4,000 wins between the 2 programs. 31 Final Four appearances. 12 National Titles. Find me a game that pits 2 teams with a richer basketball history. So though this tournament has been wild and unpredictable, this game at least appears to be somewhat expected. But in actuality it wasn’t.
UNC missed the NCAA Tourney last year and started out very slow again this season, starting out 2 and 2 with losses to unranked opponents, Minnesota and Vanderbilt (both were later ranked). It appeared to be time to head back to the drawing board for Roy Williams and the Tar Heels.
UK on the other hand, botched a golden opportunity to add another championship banner last year, when the nation’s most talented team was shocked in the Elite Eight by West Virginia. This year was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Wildcats, with next year already anointed as “the year.”
Both teams got hot and came into the tournament playing their best basketball. UNC has now won 17 of 19 games, while UK has won 9 consecutive contests. People always say that the teams who finish the regular season hot are the ones to keep an eye on to reach the Final Four. For both of these teams, that theory holds true.
I have another saying though to describe this game. “After every high comes a low.” Sorry Big Blue Nation (UK), but the journey ends today. UNC will have too much athleticism across the board and the ability to outrun the Cats all night. UK has exceeded expectations this year. But they just will not have enough left in the tank to handle a more talented and more athletic Tar Heels squad on this day. UNC, behind their freshman star Harrison Barnes, who continues to climb up the draft board, will be invited to dance all the way to Houston by 8 tonight for a date with UConn next weekend.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.