Thursday, April 01, 2010

Worst Final Four Ever?

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That is the question I keep hearing being bandied around this week. That this Final Four lacks the luster. Lacks the prestige. Lacks the real dominant teams.

I just don't get it.

We've got representatives from 3 of the top 4 conferences - and then the King of the mid-majors in Butler. And within those big time schools, we've got the ACC champion (both regular and postseason), the Big East postseason champ (and second place regular season) and a Michigan State team that finished tied for the Big Ten regular season championship.

And let us not forget that if you go back to the Preseason polls, you couldn't find a poll without these four in them. And the AP poll had them in the Top 11, the Coaches in the Top 10 - that's right all four of them in the Top 10. Michigan State was #2 - and a fixture in the Top 10 most of the season.

Let's look at that MSU team. Certainly, the Spartans have been the most consistent NCAA tournament team in recent memory haven't they? So why are we surprised when they make this run every year? Is it because they look beatable in conference play - and three game losing streaks and early exits in the conference tournament spell that out. Maybe its because Kalin Lucas is out with the injury. Or maybe its because they didn't beat anyone (sorry Maryland fans) to get here. At least Butler took down the two top seeds in its region.

And what about Butler. Should we be surprised? Certainly this team plays in a terrible conference. Without Butler - the Horizon would be a bottom half of the barrel conference. But they won thirty games two years ago and extended number 2 seed Tennessee to overtime in that tournament. Last year LSU bounced them in the opening round. But as far as mid-majors go - there is none better than Butler right now. It only is cemented by this performance.

And just because West Virginia hasn't been there forever doesn't mean they aren't any good. This is a team that was rarely out of the Top 10 all season and is playing its best basketball with the bright lights on.

And certainly nobody is going to knock Duke. Not with the Devils past history. But some of that has been forgotten in recent years. And maybe Duke doesn't carry the same luster it once did, but they are still Duke and the ACC champ.

So if you want to call this the worst Final Four ever - go ahead. Maybe we're all still basking in the memory of the all-#1 Final Four of a few years ago. This isn't the worst Final Four, it is a different Final Four. But isn't that what this tournament is supposed to be about anyhow.

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