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Saturday, March 31, 2012

So long, Cinderella!

So long, Cinderella!  We've become accustomed in the last couple of years to having a true Cinderella to root for in the Final Four.  Last year, Cinderella even brought a friend when Butler and VCU both made it to the final weekend of the tournament.  But this year, Cinderella was not invited to the dance.  Well, perhaps she was invited to the dance, but she was certainly not given directions to the after-party known as the Final Four.  This year's Final Four is made up of the historical giants of the game.  And, in a way, that has a charm of its own.

Kentucky was the overall #1 seed of the entire tournament, and the Wildcats have looked impressive in their first four games of the tournament.  Kentucky is perhaps the most storied program in the history of NCAA basketball.  They are clearly in the top five programs of all time.  Kentucky has won seven national titles and has made fourteen previous trips to the Final Four.  Another clear member of the top five most storied programs in history is Kansas.  They have also made it to the Final Four this year.  Kansas has won three championships ... the most recent being in 2008.  This is the Jayhawks' fourteenth trip to the Final Four.  Kansas will play Ohio State in the semi-finals.  Ohio State is more famous for their football program.  And rightly so.  But the Buckeyes' basketball prowess should not be overlooked.  The Buckeyes can count Clark Kellogg and Bobby Knight amongst their basketball alums.  OSU has not won a title since 1960, but this is their eleventh trip to the Final Four.  And it's not all ancient history.  The Buckeyes played in the title game in 2007.  The upstart in this year's Final Four is Louisville.  At a #4 seed, Louisville is the lowest seed to make this year's Final Four.  But, the Cardinals have won two national championships and are making their ninth trip to the Final Four.

So, while Cinderella might be home watching CBS with the rest of us tonight, the teams who are at the Final Four in New Orleans are a historically great gathering of royal guests.