For the first time in the history of the NCAA Tournament all four #1 seeds convene at the Final Four.
If UNC is to win a national title it will be against the toughest Final Four field ever. The consolation UNC fans can take is that the previous toughest Final Four ever was won by the Tar Heels in 1993 when three #1 seeds and a #2 made their way to New Orleans. This year’s version is a stacked field with UNC, UCLA, Memphis and Kansas having been both challenged to win tough in at least one game and dominant in the others.
And if the chalky nature of the Final Four was not enough of a headline, the added bonus is UNC plays Kansas which pits Roy Williams against the team he coached for 15 years/ The funny thing about that subplot is it really only means something to the Kansas fans. None of the players on this team were recruited by or played for Roy. Bill Self has no discernible connection to Roy either. In short, this particular story angle really carries no weight outside the Jayhawk fans’ desire to stick it to Roy and the fact Roy will be a tad emotional over the whole thing for about 3.6 seconds then he will be focused on winning the game. And I actually think the real story is the pressure on Bill Self to get the job done. Self had one gigantic gorilla taking up full residence on his back over even reaching the Final Four. The next one is actually winning the title.
Similarly UCLA’s Ben Howland is at the Final Four for the third straight season and undoubtedly is feeling the weight of possibly being referred to as the Buffalo Bills of the NCAA Tournament. As for Memphis, they are in much the same boat as Kansas having been on the cusp long enough and finally have broken through. In that respect all of these teams are talented and experienced. By all accounts this is potentially could be one of the best Final Fours in recent memory given the caliber of teams in San Antonio.
In this age of increased parity it is a bit ironic we finally get all four #1 seeds to the final weekend which means who ever wins the title can also lay claim to having done it in the toughest of circumstances.