THIS WEEK’S BEST BETS:
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: NCAA MEN’S FINAL FOUR:
VILLANOVA vs. OKLAHOMA
NORTH CAROLINA vs. SYRACUSE
Details/TV: Saturday at Houston, 3 and approx. 5:30 p.m., TBS
Before the dance marathon sizes up the final four contestants, we need a short breather to assess how far we’ve come. Mainly, who didn’t make it this far? And why?
= No Pac-12 team. A stunner? Hardly. None have done so since UCLA was there in 2008. Oregon, the top seed in the West, carried the last surviving hope before stumbling against Oklahoma in the regional final – extending a streak where Pac-12 teams are 0-6 all-time in West Regional finals. The conference’s seven teams, carrying seeds of 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 and a couple of 8s, ended up a combined 4-7.
= No go for the No. 1 overall seed. Chalk up Kansas’ five-point loss to Villanova in the South Regional final as something we should have seen coming. The Jayhawks, with a dozen Big 12 Conference titles in a row, have been seeded 1, 2, 2, 1, 2, 1, 1 and 3 the last eight years. Only once did they make the Final Four. Coach Bill Self might have only himself to blame. He has nine tournament losses to teams who were a worse seed than his team.
= Remember Michigan State? When the No. 2 seed in the Midwest (some believed the Big Ten champs deserved a No. 1) were nine points short in round one against 15-seed Middle Tennessee, the brackets actually laughed aloud. ESPN.com had more than 13 million entries in its online competition. After MSU’s loss, only three people still had perfect brackets. Michigan State was the favorite to go all the way by 22.3 percent of those who submitted a bracket. The team that had a higher favorability to win it all? Kansas, at 25 percent.
= No Duke. Not as if they were expected to, but when you’ve got Mike Krzyzewski’s know-how, you know, it’s not a real shock if the Blue Devils can find their way this far while blindfolded some years. Coach K seems to still be offering up various apologizes to anyone who’ll listen.
No need to apologize if you’ve lost a lot of interest in it by this point. It’s tough enough to keep track of what team is even in which conference any longer. (For example, Villanova is the eighth Big East team to make the Final Four in the last eight years, but it’s the only team still playing in the Big East. Think about that one).
You’ve perhaps gotten familiar with a few names of players, coaches and mascots. Don’t worry. By mid-April, it’ll so far off the radar.
THE REST OF THE WEEK:
The MLB season begins with a triple-header, capped on Sunday by New York Mets at Kansas City, the two teams last seen on Nov. 1 playing for the 2015 championship (ESPN, 5:30 p.m.) … The Dodgers and Angels’ exhibition series goes to Dodger Stadium on Thursday and Friday (7 p.m.) and to Angel Stadium on Saturday (6 p.m.) … The ISU World Figure Skating Championships land in Boston this week, with the ladies’ free final on Saturday (9 p.m., Channel 4) … More to see at this link.