Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Houston, hello....

Once again, the NCAA Tournament does not disappoint. From thrilling finishes to unlikely survivors, the field of 68 (weird writing that), has delivered in a big way. U-Conn, Kentucky, Butler and Virginia Commonwealth make up this year's last four standing, and while the names U-Conn and Kentucky are familiar to this stage, Butler and VCU certainly are not. Yes, I know Butler made it to the final last year, but c'mon. Them being to back-to-back Final Four's is like putting me on the moon once. Just not happening.

The whole basketball universe knows of Kemba Walker and Jim Calhoun. John Calipari and Brandon Knight. They are even becoming familiar with Brad Stevens from Butler. They have been introduced to Shaka Smart and his VCU Rams (bigtime), as well.

One matchup is all marquis, the other is all Cinderella. I won't pick a winner in either, but I will say I am rooting for the eventual champ to come from the VCU-Butler game. That's where the best story is. It's not in the Huskies-Wildcats matchup. Who cares. Both have been there, done that, and have the banners to prove it. Give me a pair of young, up-and-coming head coaches who will bathe in the warmth of a Final Four spotlight. Give me an unheralded, unloved, and in the case of many, unwanted VCU team that has made the world take notice.

And while we're talking VCU, let's make this very clear. VCU was a play-in game team because the Selection Committee deemed them there. It's VCU that has taken that perceived slight, and the negative thoughts of many (myself included), that they didn't belong in the field, and turned it into this. Colorado had a better resume to earn an at-large bid. Don't believe me? Then where did you have VCU finishing in the tourney? Out in the second round, maybe the third. Only two people that filled out brackets had them in the Final Four. TWO. Unless you're one of them, you are like me. VCU done, go home, enjoy your tournament gifts.

Full marks to the players and coaches on that staff. They are the definition of glass slipper. They are hoping that they can keep playing as well as they have been, to keep the carriage from turning back into a pumpkin while in Houston. And why can't they? Rooting against them only makes them tougher. They are the Terminator of this tournament.

Will they have enough to beat the other upstart, Butler? I don't know. By definition, by the way, Butler is an upstart, in spite of last year's heroics. They are not a common visitor to this stage of the dance (over their history). Traditionally, Butler is the team that gets a 12 seed, and either beats, or scares the life out of a 5 seed in the early round. Then they usually go home. Not on Stevens watch. Good on them.

By family connection, I am a defacto Butler fan, thanks to my niece who is a senior there. I still, however, and rooting for the best story. Gimme Butler, or VCU. I don't care which.

And then let them cut down the nets on Monday, beating another Goliath.

Now THAT'S a story. Mike Solarte

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1 comment:

Deron R. Pope said...

This has been one the strangest tournaments I’ve ever seen. VCU/Butler will be a historic game, two unranked teams in Final Four game. This occurrence says a lot about college basketball today, anyone can win it all.