Spring is truly here and this week in sports marks the change in season as we see the end of college basketball with the Final Four on Saturday night and the beginning of baseball season.
A game in Tokyo between the Mariners and A’s was played yesterday to kick off the season with one more game today to finish the Asian showcase.
Louisville and Kentucky will play on Saturday and that game could not come fast enough it seems. The fight in Georgetown near the Louisville campus between an elderly Kentucky fan and an elderly Cardinals fan ended with the Wildcats’ man getting punched in the face after he flipped the bird to a Cardinal.
How do you score that at home? Thanks to the retired Cardinal faithful, Louisville has started the upset trail already: 1 to 0.
Kentucky has not faced a team that has been within striking distance with three minutes to go or less in the game. Clearly they are the most athletic team in the country, but with their youth I think they are vulnerable down the stretch as the Hoosiers showed earlier this season.
If Louisville can find a way to hang in the game until the final few minutes they will have a golden opportunity to steal one from the Wildcats.
And yes...it would be a massive upset. People are down playing the game’s lopsided nature because the teams have a storied rivalry, but the stats don’t lie, Kentucky is a lethal team who continues to come at you for 40 minutes with their pressure and fast breaks.
If the Miami Heat had a college equivalent it would be Kentucky. Both teams push the ball mercilessly down the throats of their opponents. If Louisville can limit turnovers and gets back on defense, they have a great shot.
In the other game that does not seem as great but will more than likely be closer, Kansas will play Ohio State in a battle of #2 seeds.
Kansas had a legitimate argument for being a number one at the start of the tournament, but the committee favored Missouri over the Jayhawks. We see the end result of that mistake: Kansas with another Final Four appearance under Bill Self, Missouri with another long off-season scratching their head thanks to...gulp...Norfolk State. Ouch.
Ohio State has been my sleeper pick all tournament. They are not the most athletic team left (Kentucky), or the best shooting team (Louisville). They don’t even have the best big man (Kansas’ Robinson), but don’t tell Sullinger that.
No, what the Buckeyes have though is...in my humble opinion...the best team.
Their guard play combined with Sullinger down low has had teams scared all tournament. The Buckeyes are coming off of a win against Syracuse that was down played by the loss of Fab Melo. The fact is that the Buckeyes beat a red-hot team.
Listen to me gush over Ohio State. Don’t get me wrong, sports fans, I DESPISE the Buckeyes. My dad, a big Purdue fan, almost wouldn’t let me in his house when he saw who I had picked to win it all.
I can’t deny, however, that the Buckeyes are the best team left in the tournament. Kansas and Kentucky can both beat them, no doubt. But my money is resting on the team with the most experience and discipline in crunch time.
In the final, I see Kentucky and Ohio State facing off. This favors the Buckeyes because the starting lineups for both Kansas and Kentucky feature similar looking talents. If OSU gets past Kansas, they already have the formula for getting past Kentucky.
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What’s coming next?
Baseball in Adams County is also starting up next week.
On Monday night, the Starfires take their talents to Norwell to face off against the Knights in a tough first game for any school. the senior-stacked SA squad should have a decent season, however.
The Jets open their season at the Hangar against Winchester on Tuesday night. Veteran pitching should keep the Jets in most contests this season. Look for them to have another brilliant season under coach Dave Neuenschwander.
Last, but certainly not least, Bellmont kicks off their baseball season at Bluffton on Wednesday night. The Braves are optimistic this season will bring great baseball to the Teepee and are looking to make some noise in the NHC.