Well, sporting fans, as I sit here on Sunday night recovering from a heart cath that took my right wrist out of commission and watching Stranger Things 2 for the umpteenth time, it’s now time to gear up for the Final Four in San Antonio.
As most of Big Blue Nation will attest to, the Final Four doesn’t have a lot of significance for the simple fact the University of Kentucky isn’t playing there. I get it. But if you’re a college basketball junkie like yours truly, you will be watching the national semifinals Saturday night and the national championship on Monday night.
This year’s Final Four participants are a pretty good mix of what we all know as the four classes in college basketball and your options for a team to support. Consider the following:
CLASS 1: “The Bluebloods.” The KANSAS Jayhawks represent the old money of college basketball. Rock Chalk defeated another blueblood Duke 85-81 in a overtime war to reach the Alamo city. But we all know you won’t be rooting for Kansas.
CLASS 2: “The Really Good Team From The East.” The VILLANOVA Wildcats will be making their trip to the Final Four after defeating upstart Texas Tech. The Cats are rolling right now, winning all their games by double digits in the tournament and are the best offensive team in the country. But I doubt you’ll be pulling really hard for them either.
CLASS 3: “The Really Big School.” The MICHIGAN Wolverines caught fire in the Big 10 tournament and rode that momentum into this year’s Final Four much like Villanova. The Most Outstanding Player from the maize and blue was guard Charles Matthews, a transfer from Kentucky. You will (or should) want Matthews to play well in the tournament, but you won’t be really pulling for Michigan to cut the nets Monday night, either.
So that brings us to CLASS 4: “The Underdog.” This year’s team are the LOYOLA-CHICAGO Ramblers. As a result, this is the team to get behind, BBN. Usually the underdog team is just happy to be there, get some good national publicity for their program, and subsequently get drilled on the national stage. But you would be wrong about this team. The best part of this underdog is the Ramblers aren’t a fluke. They are great shooters, awesome defenders, and they know how to win. Plus they have Sister Jean. You can’t root against a club that has an elderly nun who travels with the club and prays with them before the game. It is simply not allowed.
So there you go. I’ve given you the team to root for in this year’s Final Four: Loyola-Chicago. And with that, here’s how I think the Final Four plays out. First, Villanova beats Kansas in a great offensive matchup. Next, Loyola’s Cinderella run ends in a narrow loss to Michigan. The national championship title goes to Villanova in a very well played game.
Shane Shackleford is a sports columnist for several media outlets in Kentucky. You can reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook, or Twitter @shack_daddy_1.