This is the first post since my beloved Duke Blue Devils lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to the champions out of the Patriot League, Lehigh University. The Final Four is set, disappointingly Duke is not one of those teams. This year’s Final Four includes No. 1 overall seed and South Region champion Kentucky, East Region champion Ohio State, Midwest Region champion Kansas, and the biggest surprise comes out of the West Region in Louisville.
The Final Four will take place this Saturday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The first game of the evening, scheduled for a 6:09 p.m. tip-off, will feature the interstate rivalry of Kentucky squaring off against Louisville. The two teams faced each other on New Year’s Eve with Kentucky coming away with a 69-62 victory at home. Kentucky was ranked No. 3 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll at the time while Louisville was ranked No. 4. The two team’s are drastically different at this point in the year than where they were on New Year’s Eve.
Louisville endured a rough three week stretch from the middle of February through the first week in March, losing four of six games in that span. Two of those losses were to the No. 2 team in the country according to the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, Syracuse, and the other two losses came against NCAA Tournament teams in Cincinnati and South Florida. However, the team gelled together after that stretch and rebounded in a spectacular way by winning four games in four days to win the Big East Title. The team finished with a record of 26-9. In the NCAA Tournament, Louisville has victories over Davidson, New Mexico, the No. 1 seed in the West Region, Michigan State, and most recently Florida en route to its Final Four date with Kentucky.
Kentucky has been clicking on all cylinders all season long, finishing with a record of 32-2. However, Kentucky did not win the Southeastern Conference tournament, losing in the conference championship game to Vanderbilt, a team who lost in the third round of the NCAA Tournament to Wisconsin. In the NCAA Tournament, Kentucky has victories over Western Kentucky, Iowa State, Indiana, and most recently Baylor.
The final game of the night this Saturday will showcase Kansas against Ohio State. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:49 p.m. EST. Kansas concluded the season with a record of 27-6. Kansas suffered losses to Kentucky, Duke, Davidson, Iowa State, Missouri, and Baylor in the semi-finals of the Big 12 Conference Tournament. Kansas posted victories in the NCAA Tournament over Detroit, Purdue, North Carolina State, and a 13-point win over the “Kendall Marshall-less” North Carolina Tar Heels.
Ohio State finished the season with an overall record of 27-7, including a 78-67 loss to Kansas back on December 10th. The Buckeyes also recorded losses against Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and two losses to Michigan State. The final loss of the season came at the hands of Michigan State in the Big Ten Conference Championship Game. In Ohio State’s road to the Final Four it has recorded victories over Loyola (Maryland), Gonzaga, Cincinnati, and most recently Syracuse.
The Final Four will definitely be interesting to watch. I believe the final game of the night will be the most intriguing to watch, due to the matchup of two Associated Press First-Team All-Americans. Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger will go toe-to-toe with the first unanimous AP All-American since Blake Griffin in 2009, Thomas Robinson. Sullingger averaged 17.6 points-per-game and 9.3 rebounds-per-game. Robinson however, averaged 17.9 points-per-game and 11.8 rebounds-per-game. The matchup between the two will be certainly one to watch.
Kentucky (1) vs. Louisville (4): 74-65, Kentucky
Kansas (2) vs. Ohio State (2): 77-74, Kansas