Blog Entry

The Almost Final Four: What We Learned

Posted on: March 29, 2010 1:38 pm
Edited on: March 30, 2010 12:24 pm
Thomas Beisner

When the NCAA tournament resumes Saturday and coverage continues every waking moment, you're going to see plenty of love shown to the four teams who have overcome poor seeding, easy brackets and point guard injuries from all your "real" media types.  What you won't see, though, is any affection thrown toward your "Almost Final Four" who fell just short on Saturday and Sunday.  What about at Tennessee where an Elite Eight has never happened or at Kentucky where the Elite Eight might start getting treated like the Final Four after coming heart-breakingly short yet again? 

Is it fair that these teams are supposed to be forgotten?  Not in a society where participation ribbons will probably replace testing scores one day (not a Derrick Rose joke).  So, with that in mind, let's take one last look at the four teams who fell just short of appearing on those corny Final Four banner t-shirts. 

Tennessee (Midwest)

What Went Wrong: Tennessee actually didn’t play a bad game. They shot the ball well and held their own on the boards with a very physical Michigan State team. Outside of Scotty Hopspon’s missed free throw-foul combo and the worst half-court shot in NCAA tourney history, Tennessee showed a lot of character in a run to the Elite 8 and a comeback from down 8 points in the second half.

What Really Happened: They tried to mess with The Izzo. And you don’t mess with the Izzo in March.

On the bright side: They made it out of St. Louis without anyone getting arrested, which, according to odds makers at least, is more of an upset than their run to the Elite 8.

Kansas State (West)

What Went Wrong: Kansas State couldn’t hit their free throws and they got out-rebounded by a team that hadn’t out-rebounded a team in the tournament yet. Just like their previous coach, they came in reeking of their last battle with Cincinnati and struggled to keep their legs under them. Kansas State won the battle on Thursday but Xavier won the war on Saturday.

What Really Happened: Furious with how they ousted The Prophet Jimmer Fredette in the second round and the way they’ve glorified a beard that strictly prohibits BYU’s grooming code, Salt Lake City’s BYU alumni group decided to fight back against Kansas State. They turned to former Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings, a BYU grad and SLC resident, who, not surprisingly, is also an alien. Jennings snuck into the Wildcats’ hotel Friday evening and, just like in Space Jam, sucked all the talent out of Frank Martin’s team while they met for their “One Blogging Moment” reading club. Look for another Jennings run of dominance in the near future, this time on Pros vs. Joes.

On the bright side: They get to leave Salt Lake City and return to civilization Manhattan.

Kentucky (East)

What Went Wrong: Everything. In the back of their minds, Kentucky fans had feared all year that their team might not be mature enough to handle the pressure or that they might not be sound enough from the free throw line or the three-point line. In Syracuse on Saturday, the bottom fell out in the worst possible way as they struggled in every aspect. DeMarcus Cousins, a model citizen most of the year, appeared to lose his cool at points and DeAndre Liggins got T’d up for, well, we still don't know. They shot 4-32 from three and hit only 55% from the free throw stripe. It was just a fundamental beating.  And, it was just as Kentucky fans dreaded it would be.

What Really Happened: Kentucky’s freshmen all struggled to maintain the proper focus late in Saturday’s game as concerns over the strength of Russian ruble continued to linger with experts.  Is it the right time to enter the job market or is this a sign of greater economic issues to come?

On the bright side: Just over 2.6 million Kentuckians already vacated this game from their memories.

Baylor (South)

What Went Wrong: Another team that really didn’t play a terrible game. They got decent, if not great, contributions from their big three and locked up Kyle Singler, who shot 0-10. But, Nolan Smith abused the Bears for 29 and it seemed like every three ball was falling for the Devils. Even Andre Dawkins came in and knocked down two big ones in the first half. It was the type of game that you have to just move on from with your head held high, knowing that you’re proud of your effort and that you didn’t get punked out after a Jon Scheyer elbow. Oh, wait….

What Really Happened: This game was decided well before Demond became Tweety or Scott started drawing. Coach K has a pact with the devil, which was agreed upon while he played for him at Army, and ensures that hell must freeze over before Duke stops making Final Fours with rosters that just don’t seem Final Four caliber.  It appears the forecast is as blazing as ever.

On the bright side: Unless you’re a Duke fan, there really isn’t one. Sorry.  

Category: NCAAB
Tags: East, Midwest, South, West

Since: Aug 1, 2009
Posted on: March 31, 2010 1:14 pm

The Almost Final Four: What We Learned

I don't think it ever will vacate your memory.  Tell me what color is the sky in your world?  If UK had hit their three's???  Why not just say if UK had score more points than WVU they would have won the game???  The point is, they did not hit their three's, and clearly WVU scored more points than UK; accordingly, WVU moves on, and UK goes home...

Its the way of the tournament (world)... Deal with it!!!

Since: Apr 23, 2008
Posted on: March 31, 2010 10:44 am

The Almost Final Four: What We Learned

I agree, very entertaining.  In a sports media world where smartass and attack usually overrun sport specific knowledge, fact finding, and tact- this is one writer I will continue to read. 

Since: Jun 26, 2009
Posted on: March 31, 2010 8:59 am

The Almost Final Four: What We Learned

Just over 2.6 million Kentuckians already vacated this game from their memories.



Wow, I find that to be the most riduculous statement of the blog.  If you think that 2.6 million Kentuckians don't follow basketball, you're nutz.  If you think that 2.6 million of us true UK fans have forgotten, you're nutz.  None of us can forget that Duke beat us last Saturday...wait, you were talking about the Duke game in 1992, right?

Has UK lost since then?Undecided

Since: Sep 18, 2008
Posted on: March 31, 2010 2:31 am

The Almost Final Four: What We Learned

Great article! Kentucky fan here but more importantly a college basketball fan. And there isn't a college basketball fan with a pulse who can look at UK's performance on Saturday and not scowl. Well, that's not true; the Cats are universally hated. But you get my point. Very. Ugly, Game. And anyone paying attention could have seen the disaster unfolding within 5 minutes. The freshmen had that "What the hell?" expression that can only come from a bunch of young 'uns whose coach failed to tell them ANYTHING about a 1 3 1 zone. They've been talented enough to "figure it out" all year long. But they hadn't played a Bob Huggins team. The man owns his buddy Cal.

Since: Mar 30, 2010
Posted on: March 30, 2010 11:52 pm

The Almost Final Four: What We Learned

Almost forgot... the title: Loserville, pop: me"   ... Property values are up, crime is down, taxes are non-existent. I recommend being a loser to everybody I meet. It's liberating, no-pressure, and anything you accomplish is so startlingly impressive you'd bed down a super-model 10 times a day... if chicks dug losers, which, of course....

Since: Mar 30, 2010
Posted on: March 30, 2010 11:46 pm

The Almost Final Four: What We Learned

Excellent analysis! I know these Kentucky fans of whom you speak, and they have no memory of this last loss (or any other losses, ever) at all. If I may, might I remind you that all may be thankful to know that not only was it the "almost final four", but also, it was almost without universal health care for the favorites that took their beat-downs without throwing additional fore-arm/elbow MMA moves against their opponents. Question: Which sport will DeMarcus Cousins go pro in first?  NBA or Ultimate Fighter?  (full disclosure: it was nearly impossible to ask that without referencing current hoopsters anticipating the chance to show him the "professional" way of settling your differences in a locker room... oh wait... so I couldn't resist.)

Since: Jan 24, 2010
Posted on: March 30, 2010 9:51 pm

The Almost Final Four: What We Learned

That's the beauty of March Madness, otherwise bracketology would become mundane, pencil in the 1 seeds and call it a day.  Bad games happen for good teams, unfortunately when it's one and done, it's costly.

Since: Mar 19, 2008
Posted on: March 30, 2010 9:12 pm

The Almost Final Four: What We Learned

I meant to end with "They had a terrible 3pt shooting game, plain and simple."  before people try to say I'm contradicting myself.

Since: Mar 19, 2008
Posted on: March 30, 2010 9:03 pm

The Almost Final Four: What We Learned

I guess the game hasn't vacated my memory yet.  I accept the defeat, but come on people, if UK had hit their season avg of 3 pt field goals they would have won by double digits.  Yes, they lost but it was only because of their 3 pt shooting.  It would have changed the entire tone of the game had they only hit 3 of their first 12 or so 3 pt attempts.  And they were wide open!  They completely controlled the first few minutes of the game.  They had a terrible game, plain and simple.

Since: Mar 22, 2008
Posted on: March 30, 2010 7:20 pm

The Almost Final Four: What We Learned

Beautifully and entertainingly written sir.  Keep writing.  You have a knack.

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