March Madness is ready to hit the Final Four stage this week when the quartet of schools still left in the NCAA tournament clash for a place in Championship Game on April 6th. Three number one regional seeds enter the Final Four on April 4th, with just one lower ranked school left to claim the tag of underdog.
That billing certainly goes to Michigan State as East regional champs come packing a seventh seed and have surprised many on the way. The Spartans will lock horns with South regional number one seeds Duke, with the Blue Devils looking serene in the Elite Eight on the way to victory.
In the other half of the draw, NCAA tournament favourites Kentucky are continuing a run that seems to have fate written all over it. The number 1 seed from the Midwest hasn’t had it all its own way through March Madness but is still on course for a triumph. The Wildcats will meet the West’s number 1 seeds Wisconsin, with the Badgers certainly showing the game to take out Kentucky in a shock.
There are few surprises in the line-up it’s true; indeed all of the teams involved have participated in the Final Four since 2010, while two (Kentucky 2012 and Duke 2010) have won the championship in that time. Kentucky is of course the red hot favourite, sitting on a 40-0 winning streak this season the Wildcats look to be on a date with destiny. The school is hunting its ninth NCAA1 championship, a record only bettered by the 11 of UCLA.
Duke’s 2010 win was its fourth, but this is the first time the team has been in the Final Four since then and the school will be hoping that means something. Michigan State has not picked up a tournament win since way back in 1989, but even that seems like yesterday compared to 1941, the last time Wisconsin stood atop college Basketball in the U.S.
So familiarity in the teams for sure, but on the hardwood it is another matter where Kentucky’s all-conquering line-up is littered with freshman players. That’s not the case for Wisconsin as the Badgers are carrying plenty of veteran experience to the floor, and will need that nous against a blazing Kentucky roster. Speaking of freshman players, Jalil Okafor has been excellent for Duke and the potential Number 1 Draft Pick for the NBA is the sprinkling of star quality that makes Duke a dangerous prospect.
However, all eyes really are on Kentucky as the school looks to complete the first unbeaten season since Indiana’s 1976 national title winning team.