Final Fours are, let’s face it, usually something of a let down after the first two weeks of March Madness. Not so this year (at least on paper). This is the first year all four #1 seeds have made it through to the end–and can duke it out (sans Duke!) as the four best teams in the country should.
It’s doubly exciting for me, because my two favorite college basketball teams comprise half of the final field! I’m from Kansas, and so the KU Jayhawks are and will always be my #1 team. I’m rooting for them to win their first national championship since 1988. But I’m a grad student at UCLA now, and so I’d also love to see the Bruins win it all (it would be their 12th!). As I see it, I have pretty good odds that one of my teams will take home the trophy. That is, unless Memphis and/or Roy Williams’ Tarheels ruin the party.
Which brings me to tomorrow night’s epic matchup between Kansas and North Carolina. Roy Williams (current coach of UNC), was the coach of Kansas for 15 years. The “Roy” years were largely successful at KU, albeit with no national championship to show for it. In 2003, Roy became the most loathed man in Lawrence (KS) when he announced that he was leaving KU for UNC–something he promised three years earlier that he’d never do. Of course, once at UNC Roy promptly won his first national championship in 2005–further incensing the Jayhawk faithful who so hoped Roy would lead them to the prize. Hence, Saturday’s night’s game is a game of emotion, revenge, and bragging rights. Will Bill Self be able to outcoach the white-haired wonder? I surely hope so.
And I hope UCLA beats Memphis too… which means KU and UCLA would meet in the National Championship game, in a rematch of last year’s Elite Eight game which UCLA won. I would be delighted by this scenario, b/c either outcome would suit me fine. Truth be told, I would be pulling heavily for KU (honestly, does UCLA need a 12th banner?), though the game would be epic regardless.