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* Since 1985, when the tournament field expanded to 64 teams, there never has been a Final Four with all one and two seeds eliminated. This is the first time since 1979 that on the last weekend of tournament play the best 8 teams, seed-wise, have been eliminated.
* Kentucky made its 14th Final Four appearance; the first in 13 seasons.
* UConn made its second Final Four appearance in three years.
* VCU is the first 11 seed to reach the Final Four since 2006 (George Mason) and 1986 before that (LSU).
* Butler is the first mid-major program to reach the Final Four in consecutive years since Jerry Tarkanian had the finest collection of players that money could buy at UNLV in 1990 and 1991.
Kentucky (4) defeated Ohio State (1) after a last second shot by Brandon Knight, his second game-winner of the tournament. North Carolina (2) defeated Marquette (11) in a game that was never in question; UNC was up 40-15 at the half.
Brandon Knight carried Kentucky over North Carolina to get to the Final Four. UK shot a staggering 54% from the three-point line and 48% from the field, both of which bested UNC and ultimately decided this game, though they were out-rebounded by five. It doesn't matter if you're giving up a negligible amount of boards if you are making half of your shots, including 12 three-pointers.
Alot of those angry UK fans are now vindicated. They scoffed at getting thrown into the East regional bracket at a lowly four seed with not only OSU and UNC, but also Syracuse ahead of them.
Most people outside of the states of Ohio and Kentucky had OSU moving on here, as did I.
Derrick Williams scores 25 first-half points for Arizona (5) against Duke (1) to keep them down by six at the half. The rest of the team decides to help out and dominate the second half, giving Arizona the victory here.
UConn (3) defeated SDSU (2), then won a hard-fought battle against Arizona to get to the Final Four; up by two points, they watched Arizona miss a last second three-point shot. Kemba Walker had 20 points and Jeremy Lamb had 19 for UConn. More importantly was Arizona's abysmal free-throw and three-point shooting. UA made just 4 of 21 from the three-point line and shot just 68% from the charity stripe. And they only lost by two points. It should be noted that UConn did only slightly better in those categories but were pretty awful as well. As I've previously written, look out for Arizona next year. They are on their way back to the top of college basketball with the other elites.
VCU (11) defeats Florida St (10) in a one-point overtime finish. FSU out-rebounded VCU by a wide margin: 45 - 28. However, their assist-turnover ratio was horrible - 7:16 compared to VCU's 18:16. Anytime you more than double your turnovers to your assists, as well as only shooting 36% you are probably going to lose.
Kansas (1) easily took care of Richmond (12) and then the unthinkable happened. VCU dominated Kansas to get to the Final Four. Kansas made just 2 three-pointers, shooting just 9%. VCU made 12. KU got to within a two-point deficit after being down 41-27 at the half but poor free-throw shooting and the inability to stop Jamie Skeen was their demise.
Butler (8) defeated Wisconsin (4) in a typical Big 10 final score: 61-54. I wasn't able to watch this one on TV but it looked like a snoozefest. As most games involving a Big 10 team.
Florida (2) defeated BYU (3) in overtime. Jimmer Fredette scored 32 points, but the rest of the team didn't do too much. The overall field-goal percentage wasn't good enough. Live by the three or die by three. Making 10 three-pointers collectively as a team in a game is impressive. Missing 27 other attempts and getting out-rebounded by your opponent is not.
Butler outlasted Florida in overtime in one of the more statistically even games I have seen in a while.
VCU (11) vs Butler (8), Sat April 2nd 5:09 pm CDT (CBS)
UConn (3) vs Kentucky (4), Sat April 2nd 7:49 pm CDT (CBS)
Some are saying the Kentucky vs UConn match-up is the real championship as the winner will most likely crush whomever comes out of the end side of the bracket. I'm going to have to take UConn over UK. We will likely see Walker and Knight both explode for 20-plus points here and the game looks to be a close one.
Kentucky may have the depth and Knight is playing as well as anyone lately, but in the end I think Jim Calhoun will outcoach John Calipari to make up the difference.
VCU has caught lightning in a bottle. They have slayed Goliath and face an easier opponent in Butler. If they can continue to their lights-out shooting they will be playing for a national title on Monday, April 4th. Both teams have young, upstart coaches with bright futures ahead of them.
Butler has proved they are no fluke by making a back-to-back Final Four appearance and having played in the national championship game last year; Shelvin Mack is a player and their upperclassmen have the experience. However, VCU is playing with house money and has nothing to lose. If VCU starts draining threes early and often, it will be a long game for Butler.
I'm taking VCU over Butler, and then UConn over VCU to win it all on Monday night. I'm also taking a lot of Valium but that's another story.
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Posted on Apr 24, 2017