Final Four just a little freaky

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 28, 2000

Sports Editor

Well the final four is set and who would have thunk it?

Yeah, yeah, I know I’m eating a lot of crow with some of the picks that I made in recent columns, but I’m pretty sure I’m in the majority who thinks this year’s group is the biggest surprise since Villanova made it and beat a heavily-favored Georgetown in the finals.

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So, I have yet to hear of some freak that got all the final four teams correct in his bracket, so I can just about assume that he or she does not exist. I mean, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina and Michigan State? Who would be stupid enough to pick all four of them to win four in a row and make it? Yeah, Florida, UNC and MSU are big names, but even the Tarheels were a long shot this year.

They always have the talent with the kind of recruiting that a club like North Carolina is capable of, but they just haven’t proven anything all year long. Their current four-game winning streak is their longest of the season. What a great time for it huh?

And who could have ever seen No. 8 seed Wisconsin? Heck, I had Fresno State beating them in the first round and along with UNC I – like many others – didn’t think they really deserved to be at the big dance.

Do you see how great this is though? These teams give hope to every school in the country who always thought that the final four spots were reserved for the big-name basketball schools like Kentucky, Duke and UCLA.

I like the thought of a Wisconsin upsetting teams and making a great run when most people couldn’t name one player on the squad. Not only that, but when the NBA draft comes around they won’t even be mentioned, but they have become the toast of the town in Badger-country.

My thoughts just drift to Roy Kramer and NCAA football. If they don’t think this is proof of how great a college playoff system can be then they need to be put to sleep like some senile old hound dog.

A football playoff will never be pulled off on the grand scale that a basketball tournament is, but it can still bring hope to more than just a couple of schools at winning a national championship.

Tell the Bagers or Tarheels at the end of the regular season that they would be only two games away from a National Title right now and most of them would have laughed in your face. Now they will be playing in probably the biggest games of their young lives while the world watches.

As far as who will win it all? Heck, I haven’t picked a winner yet, but I don’t guess that should stop my predictions. I’d love to see Florida and Michigan State in the finals and the Gators bring the title back home to the SEC, but you never can tell just what will happen.

Whatever does happen and whichever team finishes the season with a win, one thing is for certain, this year’s NCAA Tournament has been a gem.