When Nik Stauskas missed a half-court heave at the buzzer to end Michigan's season and propel the Kentucky Wildcats into the National Semifinal, it ended a crazy two weeks of basketball leading up to the college sport's ultimate gift to the fans: The Final Four. Everyone loves the Final Four, right? The pageantry, the excitement, the nets getting cut down...what isn't to love?
Truth be told, there are only five types of people who actually love the Final Four, and truthfully love this year's edition: Gator fans, Badger fans, Huskies fans and Wildcats fans. Add to that, the chalk-loving bracket battlers who took the overall #1 seeded Florida to the final line on their entries. That's it. That's all she wrote.
And it couldn't be more true for Buckeyes fans. Not only did Ohio State faithful have to sit and watch as their team took an all together dumb loss to Dayton (and then listen to the locust-like Flyer fans for two weeks), but they had to watch an incredibly great tournament that lacked any sort of scarlet and/or gray at all. It was a fun tournament, after all, but without our favorite team, it was just...empty. True, a Final Four and Elite Eight in consecutive years will do that to a fan base, but that's just an excuse at best, and a crutch at worst.
But it gets worse. Not only did the Buckeyes lose early, not only was it punishing to watch basketball with no meaning for two weeks, but now we're left with this Final Four. As a Buckeye fan, the only thing you should be rooting for in North Texas* is a comet, meteor, roof collapse, or combination of the three. Because this Final Four is literally the worst. Let's have a look at why.
*Note: I've had enough of "North Texas", CBS and your Turner affiliates. They're not the North Texas Cowboys, they're the Dallas Cowboys. Plus, "North Texas" takes up more characters than "Dallas", so for the sake of Twitter, let's just say the Final Four is in Dallas. Else, just another thing to hate.
On the top-left side of the bracket you have Florida out of the SEC. Florida, which came into the last two weeks as the overall top seed and walked thorough a bracket devoid of the Buckeyes (thanks, Dayton) and Syracuse (thanks again, Dayton) and get into the National Semi after beating the team we just thanked twice. Everyone hates chalk, of course, so no one likes Florida for that. But there is, if you have been living under a rock or aren't a psychotic masochist, some history between Florida and Ohio State. Not worth recounting, but if you have time and a scratch you want to salt and/or lemon, just do a Google Search for "Florida Ohio State 2007". And then try not to drink bleach.
Florida draws the Connecticut Huskies, a #7 seed, who beat Michigan State to make it to the Final Four. There will be two story lines that you won't be able to escape this week: The first, that UConn is actually in the AAC, and is thus in a mid-major conference. If they win, they will do what Butler couldn't do twice! Which is total bullshit! And second, that the last team Florida lost to was, you guessed it, UConn, on a last-second shot in Connecticut's gym. I wonder how many times we're going to have to watch Shabazz Napier hit that buzzer beater this week. I put the over/under at eleventy billion. And I'm still pounding the over. And it is going to be the most annoying part of the Final Four.
Add to that the fact that UConn was the team that bounced Jim O'Brien's boys en route to the 1999 Championship. At least the record books forgot about that. Buckeye fans? Doubtful at best.
On the other side of the bracket, the winners of the West: Wisconsin, an alliterative amalgamation of awful. There are a lot of things that you can say about Wisconsin, from their three straight Rose Bowl defeats, to their employing of Bret Bielema in football. We hate Wisconsin for a number of reasons as Buckeye fans, but over the last few years, Badger basketball has become as big a rival for the Buckeyes as they have in football. Bo Ryan is the architect of Badger Basketball, and is in his first Final Four as head coach, now with plenty of ammo when telling other fan bases to "Deal with it".
And then last, and hopefully least of all, is the Kentucky Wildcats. Big Blue Nation. Kentucky: two years removed from their last national championship, and just one year removed from losing in the NIT to Robert Freaking Morris. Kentucky: an eight-seed. Kentucky: starting five freshman who have probably seen more of Rupp Arena than the inside of a classroom this year. Kentucky: playing in a crappy "power" conference and going to the Final Four.
Hate Florida, hate UConn, hate Wisconsin, but hate Kentucky the most. Hate Kentucky because John Calipari is the guy who sells snake oil to snake oil salespeople. Hate Kentucky because there's going to be another banner hanging in Lexington for a few years until the NCAA finally shuffles down to Lexington and does what it already did at Massachusetts and at Memphis. And hate Kentucky because they're in the SEC, and for the next week, with the Wildcats and Gators still alive, the SEC chants will continue for another few days, PAAAWWWLLLLLLL.
There are three more college basketball games left this season. And they're all going to be horrible. So do yourself a favor and embrace the hate. It's the only thing that will make the next week tolerable.