Well, the Wildcats have gone and done it again, heading to the program's 16th Final Four, with a chance to hang NCAA Tournament banner #9. As a #8 seed.
Tweet of the Morning
It's nuts, gloriously nuts!! Kentucky Wildcats Return To Their Third Final Four In Five Years http://t.co/GwXYXryQQ3 via @ASeaOfBlue— ashley judd (@AshleyJudd) March 31, 2014
From really early this morning.
- Damien Harris lists his top ten. Kentucky's on there. Via Hank
Hail the victorious Wildcats!
Kentucky is right where it should be — in the Final Four.
Amazing ending to an amazing game:
"That was probably the biggest shot he ever hit," Andrew Harrison said. "My mouth was just open. I couldn't even chase after him, I was so dazed."
"It's the best feeling in the world," Aaron Harrison said. "I know even if I did have a bad game like I did today, big shots are big shots. And I like to take big shots."
That was a big shot.
Consider the opponents they Wildcats had to conquer to get here: Kansas State, Wichita State, Louisville and Michigan. The latter three were the champions of the Missouri Valley, American and Big Ten, and also three of last year's Final Four participants. They ended their seasons with a collective .855 winning percentage. And they ended their seasons because Kentucky executed just enough more precisely down the stretch of excruciatingly close games to survive.
Postgame notes from Larry Vaught. Via Hank
Reid Redgrave of Fox Sports says Calipari should get props for a great coaching job:
Love him; hate him; do whatever you like, because one of the great things about sport is that we can choose which character is our personal hero and which our villain. But after Calipari's baby-faced Wildcats outlasted Michigan on Sunday -- Kentucky's third greatest-game-of-this-tournament game in a row, following wins over No. 1 seed Wichita State and archrival Louisville -- there's one thing you can no longer deny:
Cal is a great coach. Perhaps a historically great coach, one who has been able to do what has been done only once before in college basketball history by taking a group of five freshman starters to a Final Four.
It's time for fans to get past any personal biases against him, whether real or fairy tale, and acknowledge this simple, obvious fact.
That won't happen, of course. I'd settle for the media acknowledging it, and let the fans do what they will.
The inevitable Fab Five comparison begins in earnest.
Marcus Lee, forgotten All-American. We didn't forget him. Trust me.
You've surely seen Pat Forde consume his crow sandwich. If not, here you go.
Mike DeCourcy calls this the greatest coaching job of the era.
This is the greatest coaching job of this era, not unlike Mike Krzyzewski’s best work from 1986-1994 and John Wooden’s from 1964-75. And like the others, it is a product of the particular era. So how come he’s not accorded the same sort of applause?
(And please don’t bring up the vacated Final Fours. Read Seth Davis’ biography, "Wooden: A Coach’s Life", and you’ll forever be disabused of the notion that such justice is dispensed fairly.)
How incredibly true, and how just that DeCourcy should be the one to deliver that line.
The sockpuppet Kent Sterling. The incredible hypocrisy is worthy of commentary, but I'll just let it speak for itself:
Sure, it would be nice to watch college basketball played by college students hoping to earn their degree while playing, but Big Blue Nation doesn’t worry themselves about such trivialities. Status in the Blue Grass is measured by banners, not degrees. That makes Kentucky my villain in this tournament – or any tournament.
What a douchebag. Is Indiana, who recruited Noah Vonleh, a villain? Not to Mr. Sock. Hypocrisy is what he does, and who he is.
A warning: This may be the single most obnoxious, self-congratulatory, priority-skewed fan base in a nation full of them. To them, Sunday's outcome is a birthright. To their credit, they are usually right.
"Priority-skewed?" Look, I can live with the rest of it, we are what we are. But the "priority-skewed" thing is facially absurd, and speaks mainly to the hubris of writers such as this, who look down their nose at states like Kentucky that offend their genteel sensibilities. I'll take our obnoxious, self-congratulatory selves over that sort of derisive narcissism any day.
Sweet schadenfreude from the Buckeye State:
As I wrote two years ago: John Calipari is a boss hogg outlaw. I hope he wins the title as an eight seed so I can watch the Old Timer Media weep into their Burberry scarves from their courtside seats all over again.
And to people who cheered for Michigan to beat Kentucky due to some Tennessee-like conference pride tilt: Who hurt you?
Yikes. Some serious Michigan AND MSM hate there. They can have the Michigan hate, but I'll take the rest.
Kentucky is easily the most dangerous team in the Final Four and is showing that it was only a matter of time before America saw this side of them. The early season defeats at the hands of top-ranked opponents and the hazing they experienced during the three regular season losses to Florida have begun to pay off. The freshmen have now banded together and hit big shot after big shot while dismantling three of last seasons Final Four teams in close games on the way to Dallas. A fourth matchup with Florida in the finals could finally be the one that comes back to bite the Gators.
Jeff Ruby bans a Kentucky fan from his restaurant. Not sure how he will recognize him from this, but hey, maybe he'll just ban all Kentucky fans. Works for me. Maybe I'll ban myself.
Can anyone tell who the subject of this one-finger salute is? I can't. Via Hank.
Other Kentucky sports
Bat Cats drop final game to Vanderbilt, lose series in Nashville 2-1. Kentucky now hosts Louisville.
The SEC gets the last laugh, and proves it is a strong hoops league. Let's not get carried away about this. I blasted Gary Parrish on Twitter for complaining about SEC fans crowing, because they had a right to crow a little. But a dispassionate analysis of this would, at best, consider the SEC a top-heavy league. The middle of the league underachieved, and the bottom stank up the place.
So sure, it's okay to crow a little when two SEC teams make the Final Four, especially after they were obsessively maligned by Parrish and his ilk. But there is still a lot of work to be done. A lot.
Up yours, Gary Parrish. Let people celebrate a little will you? Why don't you just stop being such a killjoy.
I realize you're butthurt having to defend your nasty comments about the SEC, and no real honest person thinks it's a great basketball conference, but your effort to knock down a little well-earned celebration reveals you as a likely hater.
This is a fair view of SEC Mania:
For my point of view, after watching the SEC for the season and posting about it with Belegcam I think the SEC got what it deserved in the tournament. Had Georgia won some non conference games, and if Mizzou could have closed out some of those close games on the road, perhaps they would have been included as well instead of playing in the NIT. The SEC is a conference with two great teams right now, the two that could potentially meet in the Finals for the fourth time this year and that would still not change my opinion of the strength of the conference vis a vis the other conferences this year.
I think the SEC was a little better than most people thought, but really, it's very top-heavy this season.