Kentucky. Louisville. Ohio St. Kansas. There’s your Final Four. Who is your pick to win it all, or whom are you keeping your especial eye on? Some are looking more forward to the Ohio St./Kansas matchup, while the Kentucky/Louisville matchup garners more media attention because of their rivalry. While The Kentucky Louisville matchup appears to be more intriguing, there are still a few things to like about the other one.
Ohio St. and Kansas’s matchup could deserve more of the spotlight as they both defeated the 1-seed in their respective brackets. It is also fitting that both 2-seeds, beating their first-seeded counterparts, should meet, settling who’s squad is better in their own right. Both teams went fairly unnoticed in their brackets, as powerhouses Syracuse and North Carolina both got much of the media’s attention throughout the tournament.
Kentucky and Louisville draw much of the attention from the media for good reason. John Calipari and Rick Pitino are two of the most notable college basketball coaches of the past years, and even decades. Their rivalry is the focus of this matchup for some, but on the court their respective squads differ quite a bit. Calipari and Pitino’s relationship plays a role in each team’s roster as well. Calipari hasn’t had a collective group of kids this good in quite a while, and Kentucky’s final four run surprised very few. Pitino has taken a unit of less stature almost all the way to the championship, with only two players averaging over ten points per game, while Calipari has a solid six players averaging double-digits.
This is quite ironic with respect to their relationship and pedigrees. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports described that in this matchup these two coaches will have “reversed roles,” as throughout their careers, Calipari has coached teams known for compensating for less talent with hard work, and Pitino has normally had the more glamorous groups with more skill. So, this appears to be a satirical matchup for the two head coaches. It will be very interesting to see how their game plays out, and if this has any significant effect on it.
In the bigger picture, there is an interesting change of power this year. The Final Four in recent years has been ruled and determined by the guards. This year, it seems the big men have overtaken the big stage, and they will be the key to either of their team’s success.
Anthony Davis has been very solid for the Wildcats the entire season, especially on the defensive end, averaging 4.6 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. Gorgui Dieng has been equally impressive, averaging 3.2 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. But he and fellow big man Chane Behanan will have their hands full containing Davis on the other end. Jared Sullinger and Thomas Robison should prove to be a very entertaining matchup of the star bigs in the other matchup.
These two matchups look equally exciting, with a story for each team and their path to the Final Four. By next Monday night, one team will add yet another banner to the legacy of their schools, all four of which are perennial college basketball powerhouses.