NCAA Hoops: Then There Were Four

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Tom Izzo's Spartans -- hot at the right time

As we flip our calendars to the month of April, madness has moved from total frenzy to controlled excitement at what remains in store….

Kentucky’s Wildcats managed to give us the best of the worst and best of the best, all in the same weekend.  One can only wonder if the Mountaineers of West Virginia wish they could have a mulligan to approach pregame chatter differently.  I’m a fan of confidence and even trash talk—after all, the NBA’s Kevin Garnett happens to be one of my favorite players.  The catch with trash talk is—it must be backed up on the field of play….specifically---more predictions than points, is not the correct formula.  In a terribly lopsided match, Kentucky’s approach seemed to be “we can show you much better than we could ever tell you”….and that they did--bucket after bucket to the tune of a 39 point victory. 

By the end of the weekend….fans, mere spectators, and bandwagon members alike were either sitting on the edges of seats or pacing back and forth as we watched the best game of the whole tournament.  The age old adage…”it’s a shame somebody has to lose” applied to the Wildcat-Fighting Irish match-up.  Notre Dame wavered between not appearing intimidated in the least, to being totally in the driver’s seat…until the end…when it mattered most. 

Kentucky’s hands will be equally as full in the next round as the Big 10 Champion Wisconsin Badgers have their eyes on the same championship prize!  The boyish charm of Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky & crew should not, under any circumstances, be confused with kindness. 

Although no stranger to Final Four appearances, Duke managed to use its conference tournament play as the foundation to build for even greater things.  The Blue Devils are a prime example of turning lemons to lemonade as they appear to have hit a terrific stride with no intentions on looking back, at all!

They’ll be tightly matched with the Michigan State Spartans.  Hats must be tipped to Coach Tom Izzo.  His guys looked as though they’d lost their way during the regular season…but all was not lost.  The Spartans have shown there is no better time than THE tournament to get one’s swagger back!

Meanwhile in Tampa….after stumbling only once during the regular season, UConn’s women have been dominating every time they step on the court.  If anybody is capable of bringing their season to a hard stop it is the Lady Terps of Maryland!

The third time has come and gone….but Notre Dame’s ladies are hoping a fifth straight appearance in the Final Four, proves to be their lucky charm.  They’ll have to run that by South Carolina’s Lady Gamecocks….don’t let the first appearance in the Final Four distinction fool you---they are as ready and willing as the rest of the field!

In a matter of hours…ladders will be propped up, nets will be cut down, players will make confetti angels on the hardwood & championship tee shirts and caps will seemingly appear out of the clear blue….may the best team win!!

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