The Final Four 2011 bracket will be completed today. So far, the Final Four already has one No. 8 seed, and a No. 3 that placed ninth in their own conference. For good measure, they could have a No. 11 seed join the party, along with a No. 4 at that. But after the wild and crazy regional finals yesterday, it could be time for the bracket to finally settle down.
Now more than ever, the one big favorite left in the field is Kansas, as the only No. 1 left. They have been blessed with an easy run through the Southwest regional – and now they won’t face anyone higher than a No. 8 seed until the national title game.
But before they can face Butler in Houston, they have to get through the tournament’s other major Cinderella. Unlike the Bulldogs, the VCU Rams did nothing beforehand to suggest they could get this far. Yet after no one wanted them in the bracket, they are a step away from an all mid-major national semifinal with Butler.
Of course, defeating the one dominant team left could be one task too many for VCU today. Even though everyone remembers how fellow CAA Cinderella George Mason did this against UConn in 2006, that could help Kansas focus even better. The Jayhawks didn’t look past heavy underdog Richmond on Friday, and will try not to do the same with the Rams, at 2:20 pm est.
At 5:05 pm est, the last piece of the Final Four will be decided, between two of the game’s greatest powers. Yet Kentucky and North Carolina haven’t been their old overwhelming selves this season. The Tar Heels overcame missing the tournament last year, as well as a slow start this year. Meanwhile, the Wildcats had to regroup with new stars, after their Elite Eight defeat in 2010.
But the two came on strong to end the regular season, and have kept it up in March. North Carolina got tested against Washington last Sunday, before an extremely easy win over Marquette on Friday. Kentucky has had it harder, with three straight wins that weren’t secured until the last minutes – including their last second upset of No. 1 Ohio State.
These Tar Heels and Wildcats haven’t breezed through, like the legends of their program’s past. Yet they can take their own place in their school’s legendary history today, in the last game before the tournament moves to Houston. UConn, another prestigious team that’s become red hot lately, is awaiting the winner on Saturday.
Everyone has waited all season to see how the 2011 Final Four would look. Butler and Connecticut have already offered surprising answers, and now Kansas, VCU, North Carolina and Kentucky try to top them in the last warm up act today.
NCAA.com- “2011 Final Four”
ESPN- “NCAA Basketball Tournament – 2011”
Sporting News- “VCU gets shot at last top seed standing in riled-up Kansas”
Houston Chronicle- “North Carolina-Kentucky a clash of college hoops titans”