Sunday, March 30, 2008

March Madness: Final Four

For the first time ever, since the field was expanded, all four top seeds from the regionals advanced to the Final Four, and I'm pleased to say I have all four in my bracket: Kansas, UCLA, North Carolina and Memphis.

Memphis impressed again with their strong showing in whipping Texas in the Lone Star State. Maybe losing to Tennessee earlier in the year was the best thing that could have ever happened to them. They got their ship into shape and have had smooth sailing ever since.

UCLA also looks sharp, especially freshman center Kevin Love, but they look like the weakest of the 4 to this point.

North Carolina and Louisville was a great game, and the Tarheels also look to be powerful! Poplar Bluff's Tyler Hansbrough is having a great season and tournament. He simply willed the Tarheels to the win over Louisville.

Kansas and Davidson was the best regional final of the bunch. I had Kansas winning, but couldn't help but pull for Davidson and sharp-shooting guard Stephen Curry. I love watching Curry play, even away from the ball and watching his quick release. It dawned on me how much his play reminds me of a kid I covered in high school in Tennessee, Cannon Whitby. Whitby played at Obion Central and was very similar. He was slight of build, but with quick feet, a quick release and a deadly accurate shooting touch. So much so, that he's #3 in the Tennessee state high school scoring records, with almost 3,500 points. (I could have sworn he broke the state scoring record, but perhaps they updated those later, since I noticed both the guys ahead of him played in the 1960's) The most amazing part of his point total, and the ones ahead of him, were they all played BEFORE the 3 point shot. Nonetheless, Whitby's total is around 400 more than former NBA stars Tony Delk and Anfernee Hardaway. Also of note, Cannon's brother, Denver is only a little over 200 points behind Cannon in the Tennessee state scoring records.

Who'll win the final four? Well I've got North Carolina, but am pulling for Memphis. Interesting that Memphis' semifinal game is against UCLA, who beat the Tigers for the National Championship back in the early 70s, in the game where Bill Walton solidified his reputation as one of the greatest college players ever. Memphis had a great team that year too, with the likes of Larry Finch and Bobby Parks playing for one of the best college coaches ever, Gene Bartow.

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