Take Note: JP Pelosi with a quick reference guide to the Final Four’s good stats, good men and a good tip for each.
The fanfare and pomp, brass bands, and bobbing cheerleaders, Dicky V breaking the sound barrier, and face painters breaking social barriers means just one thing. Championship basketball is upon us. The Final Four! A tournament of madness, and often Crazies (but not this year Duke), culminates – insert your favorite sports clichés – in three 40-minute contests. If only everything in life was so simple.
This is when the bracket braggers take center-stage around your office water cooler. When hoop jargon flies at you like a full court press. When you stumble to keep up like Ehlo on Jordan. So you’re more panicked than Shaq at the foul line, and feeling more confused than the guy who signed up to be Brutus Buckeye. (He thought he’d won the lead in a reimagining of Julius Caesar). We’re here to help.
For those out of the loop when it comes to college hoop-la, these basketball ides of March, if you will, here is a Good Guide to the Final Four – a cheat sheet for the uninitiated.
Good Stats: No.1 tournament seed; 15th Final Four appearance
Good Men: Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Coach John Calipari
Good Tip: Kentucky is the undisputed favourite to win it all. Kidd-Gilchrist and Davis is the nation’s best tandem. If you want to back a team with pedigree, offensive clout, and the confidence of, well, everyone, take Calipari’s Cats.
Good Stats: No.4 tournament seed; starting center is 6’11 with 7’5 wingspan
Good Men: Gorgui Dieng of Senegal, West Africa
Good Tip: The Cardinals play archrival Kentucky in Saturday’s “bluegrass” semifinal. Even sports writers are hard pressed to name the Cards starting five. But what’s in a name when you can play lockdown defense? Their chance hinges on the shot-squashing Dieng and his condor-like wingspan.
Good Stats: No.2 tournament seed; beat Ohio by 11 points in December
Good Men: Thomas Robinson, Tyshawn Taylor, Coach Bill Self (United Nations Peace Award nominee)
Good Tip: Efficient scorer Robinson will battle Jared Sullinger down low in what should be a gripping match-up. If you want an underdog, and to back a good guy, root for Bill Self and his Hawks.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Good Stats: No.2 tournament seed; 11th Final Four but their first since 2007; guard Aaron Craft is creating turnovers on 8 percent of opponents’ possessions, according to Sports Illustrated.
Good Men: Jared Sullinger, Aaron Craft
Good Tip: Everyone’s talking about Sullinger. He’s big, versatile, and seems like a nice guy too. His 17.6 points and 9.1 rebounds helped the Buckeyes carve up the Big Ten. But is it enough to win big in New Orleans?
photo: Associated Press