The Final Four is set for this weekend in the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, with the final two teams stamping their tickets yesterday. In the Midwest Regional final, top seeded Kansas outlasted Duke 85-81 to advance to the Final Four which will be played on Saturday in San Antonio. There, they will face Villanova, who knocked out Texas Tech 71-59 in the East Regional Finals.
The winner of Villanova vs. Kansas will face the winner of Saturday’s other matchup as Cinderella story Loyola Chicago meets Michigan for the right to play in the national championship.
And with this "other matchup", the true narrative of the Final Four is set. While many traditionalists will be salivating over the Kansas vs. Villanova clash, this weekend’s big story in the Final Four comes down to Cinderella squad Loyola Chicago, led by a bunch of kids you’ve never heard of and unofficial team mascot Sister Jean, taking on Michigan, who now gets labeled as the bad guy.
Don't get me wrong, I can't wait to see the two remaining Number 1 seeds Kansas vs. Villanova go at each other, but a titanic clash of good vs. evil will be the fun storyline to work with as we head to San Antonio.
The men’s and women’s Final Four and National Championships are coming this weekend to FOX, courtesy of Westwood One Sports. Tune in Saturday for the Men’s Final Four with tipoff of Loyola Chicago vs. Michigan at 4pm local time.
Here They Go Again
And by the way, in case you haven't noticed (It's OK, I know you haven't), the University of Connecticut's women's basketball team is on a mission to complete a perfect season. They have three games to go to finish their latest masterpiece.
Tonight, UConn will face South Carolina for the right to advance to the Final Four.
It should be noted UConn was in a similar position last year to run the table with a perfect season before being upset in the national title game by Mississippi State.
UConn has won each of their three games in the current Women's Tournament by a combined margin of 126 points. Last year at this time, the Lady Huskies had won the first three games of the tournament by a combined margin of 106 points.
If you don't think head coach Geno Auriemma doesn't take last year's loss personally, think again.
And for all those naysayers who believe Auriemma and his squad are bad for college basketball, then I'd argue that you've never experienced being a part of something so historically dominant in the sports world as to never understand what that all encompasses.
I won't bother to reason with you or rationalize for you why you should watch the Lady Huskies. Greatness doesn't mean the same to some as it does to others. I enjoy watching precision, I like dynasties, and for better or worse and regardless how often or the reasons for which you might dismiss it, this is one of the greatest dynasties in sports history.
I can only suggest you pay attention.
Anthem Protests Are Back in the News.... Again
NFL owners arrived at their annual meetings starkly divided on how best to address player protests during the national anthem. Rigorous discussions are expected to take place this week, and at least one owner is calling for a new policy by the end of May.
Some owners want to bolster current rules by making it mandatory for every player and coach to stand during the anthem.
Others want players to stay in the locker room until after the anthem is played. A few, most notably the New York Jets' Christopher Johnson, are planning to argue against either change.
"I can't speak to how other people run their teams," Johnson said Sunday, "but I just think that trying to forcibly get the players to shut up is a fantastically bad idea."
Johnson might be in the minority, however. Houston Texans owner Bob McNair, one of the NFL's most powerful owners, made clear that "political statements" have no place as part of football Sundays.
Although no resolution is expected this week, New York Giants owner John Mara said the league needs clarity on its approach by no later than its spring meetings, scheduled for May 21-23 in Atlanta.
The battle lines appear to have been drawn. McNair said he considers the issue a matter of respect to the country and flag, even though the players involved -- led by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick -- have said they are protesting police brutality and systemic oppression.
"We're going to deal with it in such a way that people will understand we want everybody to respect our country, respect our flag. Our playing field, that's not the place for political statements. That's not the place for religious statements. It's the place for football. That's what we need to be doing."
Bob McNair, owner of the Houston Texans
Well, at least we know this story won't be going away anytime soon. And it's more than obvious by now that the league is going to stay out of this. It appears more and more likely as if they're going to let each individual team handle this issue themselves. The league can ill afford to make another spectacularly bad decision which only further the cause of those who want to create dissent and disruption around the NFL.
So for the time being, the beat marches on.
Some owners will make demands.
Others will speak and look to others to speak with rational discourse.
The league will sit on its hands.
And really, once again, it comes down to you, as a fan.