by Chris Lowery, Contributing Writer
Well, after a regular season featuring dull, pervasive parity, accompanied by an equally arid four rounds of tournament play, we are left with a Final Four that makes Mr. Rogers look like Axel Rose.
Louisville, Syracuse, Michigan and Wichita State just can’t release enough dopamine to get me all hot and steamy.
I’m not being cynical—just a realist.
Sure, there’s intrigue with the Louisville-Wichita State matchup. I’d love to see Rick Pitino add to his legend with another title. Hell, Wichita State winning would be pretty damn cool, I guess.
And yes, Michigan and Syracuse could, to the trained eye, be a matchup worth watching. Syracuse is the perennial boring, 2-3 zone running Orangemen who, despite the fact that Boeheim has only been to the Elite Eight back-to-back once, always seems to be lingering behind the scenes. And Michigan is kind of cool again since ESPN’s documentary on the Fab Five.
But to the casual college basketball fan, which most of the country is, this Final Four lacks that team with the umph that puts us in front of the screen.
There’s no Anthony Davis; no Duke, UNLV (for the older fans out there), or Kentucky. And Michigan certainly isn’t the Fab-Five, counter cultural revolutionaries who forever changed the way in which basketball shorts shall be worn.
This Final Four is indicative of the same blah regular season that, although featuring great games in which No. 1 ranked teams went down, lack any real definitive presence of dominance.
However, despite any discernible semblance of flash on the surface, if one were to dig down deep, one would find gems of beauty within this homely basketball final.
I remember writing about the erratic Louisville guard last season for the tournament. He was the X-Factor then—and is more so than ever now. His fearlessness and ability to get to the rim was praised by his coach and extolled by many commentators as his biggest strength and weakness. However, his erratic behavior and poor decision has seemed to be usurped by a more controlled, confident ball handler and playmaker. Watching him throughout the tournament has been a treat up to this point.
If you don’t know that Syracuse plays a 2-3 zone at this point in your life, than I have no idea why you would be reading this blog. Counting in numerical order makes me think of the color orange as soon as I get past the number one. While the Syracuse 2-3 has always been a force to be reckoned with, this year the Orange have, arguably and statistically (for your stat nerds), played it better than ever. Throughout the first four rounds they have allowed fewer points in the tournament than any other team in tournament history, with their Elite 8 victory over Marquette—holding them to just 39 points—being a textbook tutorial on tournament defense.
The newly named AP player of the year has, arguably, been the best player in the tournament thus far. He does so much more than some of his stat lines would suggest. (Although, they are quite special in themselves). His leadership, intensity and instinctive knack for playmaking in key spots keeps my eyes glued to him throughout the game.
He still looks like Al Pacino and it only grows worse (or better) with age.
Wichita State: Yes, it would be cool if they won. But given the fact they are playing the best team in the country in the national semi-final as opposed to the title game takes a little bit of the No.9 seed-winning-it-all aura away. Still, it would be cool if they won.
In Atlanta for the games? Check out Fanzooloo’s Georgia Dome page for stadium and neighborhood info