Now we may watch in peace. The misery of seeing our beloved Tar Heels fall in the first weekend gave way to the euphoria of seeing our supremely talented rivals from New Jersey by way of Durham fail to pass the Elite Eight. Duke is out, the nightmare scenario is no more, and now we can just watch the Final Four. And, oh, what a Final Four it promises to be.
Outside of the disaster against Texas A&M and the fact that our brackets are only fit for kindling, we can all agree that this has been an absurdly fun NCAA tournament. The four remaining teams in the field reflect that. In Loyola Chicago, we have a true Cinderella. In Michigan, we have the classic “Got Hot at the Right Time” team. In Kansas and Villanova we have two top-seeded blue bloods looking to cement the legacy of their Hall of Fame coaches. Who do we root for? Well, that’s your own decicons of rooting for each of the remaining schools:
Gryffindor scarves!!! And, in case you have been in seclusion ever since the Heels fell to the Aggies, you are aware of a certain Sister Jean that has inspired college basketball’s latest underdog. This is the most straightforward of pros: They’re the underdog, the Cinderella, this year’s Hickory. They’re not a blue blood, so we don’t have to worry about anyone’s legacy or reputation challenging ours. Their two best players in the tournament are also best friends and roommates, and when their school won a National Championship in 1963, they did so as a inspiring pioneer of the Civil Rights era.
How can you possibly pull against these guys? Well...
Sister Jean has been the team chaplain for 24 years now. This is the Ramblers’ first tournament appearance since 1985. They missed the tournament 23 times ON HER WATCH!
There is also the fact that if the Ramblers win, they will be biggest underdog champion in college basketball history, which in turn means they they will likely be the WORST team to ever win the championship. If we believe in the best team winning, how can we pull for an 11-seed? (Yeah I’m reaching here, but c’mon it’s Loyola).
John Beilein is an excellent coach. His team is fun to watch, has played excellent basketball ever since the start of the Big Ten tournament, and they aren’t a basketball blue blood like Kansas and (lately) Villanova. The team is made up of a series of players who not many people were betting on (in particular Duncan Robinson, who was a Division III transfer) yet they’ve turned in one of the most successful seasons in Michigan’s history. Not to mention, if Michigan makes the title game, we will doubtless see members of the Fab Five show up to watch which, coupled with the passing of the great Woody Durham, means a bunch of 1993 highlights for us to smile at.
We beat Michigan this year. We matched up very well with Michigan and probably would have beaten them again if we’d played them in the Sweet Sixteen. Don’t think that won’t occur to you when they’re laying a beating on Loyola en route to the title game.
The Wildcats play the beautiful game. Jay Wright’s club won it all in 2016 and had an even better regular season last year, but this is his best team. Nova is unselfish, hardworking, smart, and fearless. They answer the bell over and over when opposing teams threaten them because they’ve been there before and don’t stutter when they need to deliver their lines. Their offense is the best in recent memory. Remember how much we hate watching Virginia? Villanova is the anti-Virginia, a high-octane, hot-shooting, up-tempo attack. Everyone shoots, everyone hustles, everyone buys into what Jay Wright is selling. They’re the best team in the field and would be a worthy champion.
THEY BEAT DUKE. The least we can do is cheer for them in San Antonio, right? I’m sure Roy is rooting for them, so should we not do likewise?
Hmmm...what happened the last time Kansas played in a Final Four in San Antonio?
OK, but we won it all the next year, so no harm no foul, right We totally got them back the next time, right?
Alright, but it’s not the Jayhawks’ fault Kendall was hurt. And they didn’t MAKE the committee send us to play them in St. Louis. If we see them again, we’ll-
OK, that’s it! There is no way I’m rooting for the dadgum Jayhawks! C’mon Sister Jean!!!