by Chris Dufresne
The road to Final Four was pockmarked with controversial calls and video reviews. But in the end, Florida vs. UConn and Kentucky vs. Wisconsin feels right.
Three referees and a technician huddled at the scorer’s table late Sunday afternoon and determined, after a lengthy review, that next week’s Final Four in North Texas was set.
Utilizing information culled from hundreds of cameras set up at games around the country over two weeks, the NCAA confirmed the schools moving on as Florida, Connecticut, Wisconsin and Kentucky.
The NCAA also announced the MVEI (most valuable electronic instrument) of the Elite Eight was the replay monitor.
Somehow, though, it all worked out . . . sensationally.
The officials got out of the way long enough to allow enough scintillating action to permeate down to the stars who did not wear stripes.
No botched “block-charge” call or 18-minute final minutes (Tennessee vs. Michigan) could keep the college kids from doing what they do best every March.
And that is to provide unscripted and unparalleled drama.
Kentucky earned the last Final Four prize Sunday when freshman Aaron Harrison hit a three-pointer with 2.3 seconds left in Indianapolis to lift the Wildcats to a 75-72 win over Michigan.
That followed Connecticut’s knockout win over Michigan State (Sorry, Mr. President) in New York’s Madison Square Garden.
A day earlier, in Memphis, Florida outlasted die-hard Dayton and Wisconsin edged Arizona in Anaheim overtime.
From sunup Tuesday on the first day of the tournament, to sundown Sunday 12 days later, there were seven overtime games played and 10 other games decided by three points or fewer.
Warren Buffett played us all for suckers, knowing there was no chance he would have to pay anyone a billion bucks for a perfect bracket.
Whatever you thought of the NCAA committee’s seeding two weeks ago, these Final Four pairings will go well with almost any wine.
In one national semifinal, top-seeded Florida plays Connecticut, a No. 7, while in the other, No. 2 Wisconsin meets No. 8 Kentucky.
There are enough angles to convene a geometry convention.
Four Florida seniors, who fell one game short of the Final Four the three previous seasons, finally came to a place of peace after the Dayton accords.
The Gators are back in the last weekend or the first time since 2007, when they won their second straight national title under Coach Billy Donovan.
Florida was happy to cut down the nets in Memphis, but that isn’t the endgame.
“Our goal at the beginning of the year wasn’t to be the South Regional champions,” senior forward Patric Young said. “Our goal was to be national champions.”
As Young climbed the ladder Saturday to take net snippets, he said, he was “thinking about how I wanted to be able to do this again.”