Final Four: A victory for fans outside of New Yawk | Off Piste

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Final Four: A victory for fans outside of New Yawk

Posted By on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 11:59 PM

Easily the best thing about this year's Final Four is the absence of a New Yawk team, or some other big East Coast metro college team, and all the attendant hype that they invariably get from Dickie V and all the talking head experts on ESPN who refer to the game being played as "basketbawl". Thankfully we won't hear a lot of: " Hey, I love Jimmy B and da Cuse and he'll have the big ones taking it to the rack and the small ones hoisting up trifectas," blither. The extreme hype about eastern basketball and the Big East conference, now known as the "Big Least", is over.

This is the year those basketball experts who hardly ever watch a game outside of the East and Midwest time zones look pretty foolish with their tournament predictions. Of course, I'm no expert and my tournament predictions don't look any better.

But then I don't get paid to talk about "basketbawl" and tell the world how the games is played best on the playgrounds of New York and Philly and that anything played west of the Rockies is, well, not worth covering. Tell that to retired coach John Wooden and get his reaction.

So now we're down to the Final Four and just prior to Duke getting into that group the "basketbawl" guys were moaning that the semis and finals were blighted because there was no "blue chip" team or a number one seeded team.

I have a feeling most real basketball fans really like this year's Final Four. You have Butler whose home gym is where they filmed the movie Hoosiers. Now that's a great touch. And you have the greatest living college coach in Michigan State's Tom Izzo who once again has taken a group of "no-stars" to the semifinals. Duke is certainly the thinking person's team. They play intelligently and seldom get flustered. Coach K is a masterful leader of young, and as he proved in the last Olympics, and older star players.Then there's West Virginia with coach Bob Higgins known fondly known in basketball circles as "Thuggins". Enough said.

If Butler meets Duke in the championship game, you'll have two teams with almost 100% graduation rates. Compare that with Kentucky, the team everybody thought would win the tournament, with its below 30 percent graduation rate.

If Michigan State moves on it will be with the headline news today that the University of Phil Knight in Eugene plans to offer him a gazillion dollars to take over the head basketball coaching job.

Just say no, Tom.

Meanwhile, I've been waiting for the Fox News-heads to chime in on the tournament. I was sure that sometime during the past two weeks we'd hear my boy Beck telling listeners how: "The great American game is being infiltrated, that's right infiltrated, by extremists who are out to take over this country. Look at the names of some of the players in this year's tournament - Ali, Kareem, Farouk and Omar. These players are not here to put up three point shots and dunk the ball but to do much worse, like take away our freedoms", etc, etc ad nauseum.

The game of college basketball and "basketbawl" is safe and the play at this year's tournament has been terrific. Give me one or two more games like Kansas State-Xavier match up and I'll mark down the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament as one of the best ever.

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