This year’s Final Four features four interesting teams… as it does every year… On the left side of the bracket we have #1 Louisville vs. #9 Wichita State in a battle of the best team in the tournament (according to seeding) vs. the overachieving team that “amazed” the world (ba-dum-tis). On the right, we have a matchup of Beilein vs. Boeheim. If you’re one of those people who follows the “I before E except after C rule” I’m going to suggest you not watch this game because these guys are just trying to piss you off.
At this point, most likely your team has been knocked out of the tournament and you’ve been searching through the internet trying to find an answer of who to cheer on for the final three games of the college season. Well, lucky for you, you happen to have come to the exact right place!
Coming out of the Midwest regional, or as every casual basketball fan across America knows it “the upper left part”, is the Louisville Cardinals. As the favorite to win the national championship when the tournament began, you will have a natural inclination to root for this team’s demise, especially considering they play a #9 seed in the Final Four. Everyone loves a Cinderella story and how great would it be if the Shock topped Louisville (I think that pun’s at least acceptable)? Think about that next step though. How long can Wichita St. keep the March magic going? Would they be reenergized by a victory over Louisville (similar to Butler in 2010) or would they finally fade away and not be too competitive in the final game (similar to Butler in 2011)? So I suppose their Final Four matchup is less about how you feel about Louisville and more about how much you believe in Wichita St.
As a bonus, to IU fans who frequently partake in palm-readers, fortune-tellers, and horoscopes, you all should be rooting for Louisville for another reason. Indiana’s last two championships (1981 & 1987) have both come after the year following a Louisville national championship. So do with that info what you will.
Also you just have to feel for a team who had a player do this to his leg…
#9 Wichita State
In the same way that it will be easy to root for Louisville to lose, everyone’s going to want to see Wichita State on top after next weekend. It’s easy to cheer for a team that’s overcome so much. They come from a mid-major conference. They’ve been wracked with injuries this year. They lost their top five scorers from last year and DIDN’T lose in the first round of the NIT. Their leading scorer’s name is Cleanthony… All these things are working against the Shockers, yet still they’ve made it to the precipice of college basketball greatness.
Even if Wichita State advances, do they deserve your support in the Finals? These are the real questions that traditional media is too afraid to ask.
Now, if you’re like me, Michigan is tearing me in two as I decide who I want to root for. On one hand, I want to see the Big Ten have success and they are the last chance the conference has to make that happen. I also know the team better than the others based solely off getting to watch them play more often. On the other hand, they’re a conference rival and Michigan fans would never let the rest of the Big Ten hear the end of it how they are the first conference team to win a national championship since 2000 and just the second in the last 23 years. And while most Michigan fans that pay attention to the team will probably be respectful, the ones that just hopped on the bandwagon after that Kansas game will be the ones boasting. These same people that leave 600 seats un-warmed at every home game.
The thing about Michigan though, I like their team. They are fun to watch. They’ve got the best player in the country in Trey Burke, the classic white-guy-who-can-shoot in Nik Stauskas, and a couple of athletic wings with great pedigrees in Tim Hardaway Jr. and Glenn Robinson III. Also, my favorite player still in the tournament is on Michigan – Spike Albrecht. First off, his name is Spike and he’s so adorably un-intimidating. It’s like naming a terrier “Wolf”. Second, he goes all out. He makes the most of the little time he gets. He’s the man.
This team leaves me with a similar feeling to Michigan. Because they beat IU, I want to see them go far to validate our loss to them. But also because they beat IU, I don’t like them.
The story of the Orange so far (by so far, I mean the last 30 years) is how nobody can get through their 2-3 zone. This group is possibly playing it as well as any Beilein has ever had. Indiana couldn’t solve it. And I’m not sure if you heard but there was a game on before the Louisville vs. Duke game last night where Syracuse played Marquette. It seemed to get ZERO publicity but the Golden Eagles also could not score on Syracuse. Anyway, if you like watching long, athletic guys play a zone defense, ‘Cuse is your team. If you’re like the rest of America and enjoy one-on-one matchups of the best players in the country, you’ll root for the Oranges to be peeled.
If I were to put numbers on it right now, I’d say Louisville 40%, Wichita St 10%, Michigan 25%, Syracuse 25%. But I’m also a fool.