Well, the Final Four is set and the showdown in San Antonio will begin on Saturday. My Final Four predictions almost came true, with the Memphis Tigers creating my only error in selecting the semi-finalists. I really didn't think that the Tigers had it in them, but they have proven in a convincing matter that they are a force to be reckoned with in the tournament and have played their way to a match-up with UCLA that will be a game for the books. The Kansas/Carolina match-up on the other side will be a great game as well, but I can't wait to see the run-and-gun Tigers against what is arguably the nation's top defensive unit. Memphis proved me wrong in fine style, nailing their free-throws time and again, with a made percentage that has flirted with 75-80 all tournament. Their victory over Texas was probably the most impressive win of the tournament thus far and while I was proven wrong, you can't blame me for picking at least one non-No.1 seed to advance to the Final Four. This year's group of four is composed entirely of the top seeds from each region, something that has never happened in tournament history. It makes for what should be an amazing weekend in San Antonio.

The other games over the weekend that left us with this truly elite Final Four were competitive and captivating, with Davidson's near victory over Kansas and Louisville's tough play against the Tar Heels creating more than enough drama in what has been a sort of lackluster tournament as far as the excitement level is concerned. I wanted more upsets, more last-second buzzer beaters and more coaches pulling their hair out, so the fact that the Final Four is made up of what have been the best teams in the country nearly all season is a welcome gift indeed. I over-estimated what Tennessee was capable of and while I thought Louisville was indeed as good as they played, I knew that a victory over UNC in their home state of North Carolina would probably be too daunting a task for Pitino and the Cards.

Speaking of that game, I watched it with a bar full of Louisville fans (which was a rare event for this native of the football obsessed state of Ohio). It was great to be swept up in that level of excitement about a tournament game and while their cherished Cardinals fell short, the fans in attendance never gave up on their squad. The guy I watched the game with marveled at what Tyler Hansbrough can do when motivated (which is always by the way, the kid has a motor that won't quit) and I was equally impressed with the sheer speed of the Carolina attack. They had the ball back down to their end after Louisville makes and misses with a quickness that rivaled the time it took to take a sip of my drink. I'd look down at the straw after a make, and the Tar Heels were already laying it in at the other end when I looked back at the screen. Their match-up with the hyper-athletic Kansas Jayhawks will be entertaining at the least and trying on the nerves without a doubt.

Kansas made the Final Four with their win over Davidson, which was too close for comfort if you picked them to win it all like I did. A lot of fingernail chewing and pacing in my apartment ended with a lob at the rim that I think even Stephen Curry was surprised he didn't take. The Kansas D blanketed Davidson's sophomore phenom in the final seconds and should be commended for escaping that game with a win. Their victory was only a little less impressive than Memphis over Texas, because a surging team in the tournament is always a difficult opponent. I know, I know, Davidson shouldn't even have been in that game if Kansas is as good as I think they are, but ask Georgetown and Wisconsin what can happen when a non-power conference squad gains a little confidence and features a shooter in Curry who probably thinks he can make any shot on the floor. Props to Curry on the non-Hansbrough performance of the tournament as he led Davidson on a magical run through to the Elite Eight. My buddy Jeff messaged me about that beautiful shot he had against Wisconsin in the Sweet Sixteen, where he let a leaping Badger fly by and calmly nailed a triple that pretty much sealed the game. I have to agree with Jeff that it was an incredible play and Wisconsin simply couldn't compete with Curry (let alone the other four Wildcats on the floor) for nearly the entirety of that contest.

We will see by the end of Saturday if my predictions hold but I can't wait to watch this historic match-up of all No.1 Seeds unfold.


Opening Day. Such a beautiful pairing of words. I discussed the giddy feeling that spring training filled me with a couple of posts back and baseball's official reign over summer started yesterday with games across the country. I mentioned previously my affinity for the game and how I think it is the most graceful sport with the most difficult tasks (for example, hitting a round ball with a round bat at 90-plus MPH). The beginning of its season is always a spot of joy in April (or I guess March nowadays) and I can't wait to watch my beloved Detroit Tigers and the rest of baseball's best go at it for another 160 odd games or so.

I happened to see my friend Chip a week or so ago when he was in town visiting and he made the argument that while baseball is a difficult game, returning a tennis serve at over 150 MPH (like the ones Andy Roddick can uncork on opponents) is an equally formidable task. I agreed with him, but I am a stubborn jerk if anything and while I take his point, I will maintain my own opinion on the matter. Another point he brought up however, I took to heart to a greater extent. He mentioned my obvious gaffe in overlooking Roger Federer when I was discussing Tiger Woods' dominance in the sporting world. The adoration that my father and I both laid at Tiger's feet could easily be given to Federer as well and while he may not be as close to Tiger in the race for "best ever" in his sport, he is currently an equally dominating force in his lane. Federer is on exactly the same path that Tiger is as far as records in his sport are concerned, but he will have to best Rafael Nadal on clay for me to put him neck and neck with Tiger in the dominance category. Thanks for the insight Chip and I hope to renew the aruguments when we are not surrounded by a barrage of laser-lights and dance music that I can't really get into.

1 comment:

  1. Really? I find lasers to be especially conducive when chatting about sports. Next time, we need to take some E and pretend to play tennis using glowstics as rackets. Let's make it happen over Derby.

    And I'm choosin' Memphis. Curry and Davidson was one of the only true feel-good stories of this tournament. Did you see him make that layup, channeling some MJ shit in that Wisconsin game? CRAZY. You know, for life, he's gonna regret not getting to shoot that final shot.