We’re halfway through the NCAA tournament. Time to re-jigger the field and find a Final Four. Wildcats vs. Wildcats tracking as an NCAA championship game (in semifinals) … sorry Northwestern, we don’t mean you.
Arizona: Seems to have pieces necessary to make a play at being top team named “Wildcats” this season. Still has to beat the SoCal jinx.
Duke: Christian Laettner has held his own in commercials with Shaq, Dr. J and Clyde. Devils do the same until losing in final to a Wildcats team … pick one (other than Northwestern).
North Carolina State: Time for another Jim Valvano moment? Heavyweights have been cleared from East and eight of NC State’s 13 losses are by five or fewer points.
Wisconsin: Badgers are 0-3 on their last three visits to Southern California, all Rose Bowl games. And once again a Pac-12 team stands in their way.
Gonzaga: Bulldogs have to get to the Final Four someday, right … right …. right? Zags have lost to six top-seeded teams in tourney since 1999. No. 1 Duke hangs out there.
Oklahoma: This is not Wayman Tisdale’s Sooners. These guys play defense. Lon Kruger probably won’t be happy until he takes every school to tournament.
North Carolina: Ghost of Dean Smith must be behind getting Tar Heels this far. Not a great Carolina team, but can be trouble if they rebound on offensive end.
Michigan State: Few get as much out of a team as Spartans’ Coach Tom Izzo. Question is, is there anything left to squeeze out of these guys? Might be down to pulp.
West Virginia: Coal Miners’ Daughter game with Kentucky looms in Thursday Midwest semis. Can’t see how Mountaineers will be able to dig their way out of this one.
Xavier: Hi Sean, remember us? Tough team, but Arizona Coach Sean Miller probably won’t regret reunion in West semis. Xavier has reached at least the regional semifinals six of 11 seasons.
Wichita State: Gregg Marshall one again topping charts as coach most rumored to be going elsewhere. Shockers are people’s choice, but wheat might be thin after Kansas win.
Utah: Utes are like gnats, can’t seem to ever get rid of them. But Austrian-born center Jakob Poeltl may wish he was back in Vienna after banging with Duke’s Jahlil Okafor.
UCLA: Bruins might not have deserved a tournament spot, but earned their way into South semis. Scrappy bunch, but no more 14th-seeded teams left for them to play. Clock ticking.