The Final Four did not go as many planned it would this weekend. First off, I do not think the ratings were as bad as many expected. I'm sure they weren't enormous, but I still think they were pretty solid. I live in Saint Louis, a hockey and baseball town, and the games were on at the restaurant I went to on Saturday night. Point is , people seemed to be watching.
So while we didn't get Duke, UNC or Kentucky, we still had 4 very deserving, and good teams, with future NBA players. Second, I do have to say that the quality of the games was not great. Granted, all four teams left won based on defense and rebounding, but still, there was no offensive explosion by any of the teams. All four teams scored under seventy. Virginia, Auburn and Texas Tech all barely cracked 60, and Michigan State struggled to crack 50. But man was the defense fun to watch. It was great to see a bunch of 19 and 20 year olds going as hard as they could to block a shot, get a steal, grab a rebound and play 30 seconds of solid defense every single possession. I appreciate that. I am of the firm belief that defense wins titles so this was nice for me to see.
As far as the 2 games, lets talk about Virginia-Auburn first. This game will forever be marred by one missed call. More on that in a minute. This game was really a matchup of 2 totally different styles, and to be honest, I think Virginia won the style clash because they did not really allow Auburn to run up and won like they want to do. That doesn't mean that Auburn didn't try, Virginia just turned the game into a slog.
Now, Auburn should have won, as much I may not want to say it. I do not like Bruce Pearl, he is a known cheater, and the stories of him "overcoming adversity to be where he is today" were total nonsense. I also think Auburn was the only team in the field with no real NBA guys. But, they got hosed by a missed call. The foul call on the three was legit. The defender went underneath the shooter, the shooter did not force contact and that is a foul. But, the fact that the refs missed a blatant double dribble, and allowed Virginia even a shot at three was ridiculous. Anyone that has played, or even watched basketball, knows that was a double dribble. The point guard lost the ball, picked it up and dribbled again. You cannot do that. And, he did it right in front of a ref. That is so bad. That will be what this game is remembered for. Auburn should have been the winner. But, props to Kyle Guy for making all three of those free throws and winning the game for Virginia. But man, what a terrible blown call by the officials. They have been bad this year, real bad, and that no call might be the worst. With that being said, I'm glad a scumbag like Bruce Pearl is not playing for a title tonight.
The exact same thing, except with much more enthusiasm from me, can be said about that sleaze bag Tom Izzo. His team, the same team that has covered about sexual assault and abuse for decades, were the presumptive favorites after they beat Duke. But they were not up to the task of beating Texas Tech's defense. They put up a better fight than Michigan and Gonzaga, but in the end, they couldn't get the win. Tech let MSU get off to a hot start, but after it was 16-11, they clamped down. They shut down Cassius Winston. Matt McQuaid faked cramps all game long, and he looked exhausted 5 minutes into the game. The big men for MSU were getting shots swatted left and right, and they were finding it hard to grab offensive rebounds as easily as they have done all year. Sure, the refs did their part in this game to make it close. At one point in the second half, after Tech had built a double digit lead, MSU shot 6 straight free throws to close the gap, and then CBS put up the free throw numbers for the half, and MSU had 9 attempts to Tech's 1. But, in the end it didn't matter. And for all the Jarret Culver slander that has been going around all tournament, man did that kid step up when his team needed him most. Tech was clinging to a one point lead with 2 and a half minutes left, and Culver went on his own 7-0 run, draining a step back three with 1 minute left to seal the deal. That was super impressive. He proved a ton in that last 2 minutes, and he is a surefire lottery pick now. I'd for sure take him over that Barret kid from Duke after seeing what he did.
So that leaves us with a Tech-Virginia title game this evening. This is going to be a race to 50, maybe 45. Both of these teams play methodical offense and lockdown defense. Tech has the best player, Culver, but Virginia is more seasoned, and they have something to prove after last year. I'm going with Virginia in a very, very close game. And while I know it will be low scoring, it will be an exciting game. Time for Virginia to get that monkey off their back.
Can’t wait to watch the end of a fantastic tournament.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing, the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast, and the greatest basketball writer on the internet.
SeedSing is funded by a group of awesome people. Join them by donating to SeedSing.