By the time you read this space on Monday, we will know which four lucky schools have qualified for the Final Four and are headed to Houston to enjoy our weather, our ladies and our Tex-Mex. (I can now include "ladies" because BYU has been eliminated from the tournament. Houston will remain an "Honor Code Free" zone!)
So before I get out for the weekend, with two rounds of regional semifinals in the books (and did anyone else notice who went 4-0 on his picks? Hint: He has two thumbs...), it's time to recalibrate my best- and worst-case scenarios for the casual Houston basketball fan this weekend. That would be the fan with disposable income and no rooting interest.
East: 1 Ohio State, 4 Kentucky, 11 Marquette, 2 North Carolina West: 5 Arizona, 3 Connecticut Southwest: 1 Kansas, 12 Richmond, 11 VCU, 10 Florida State Southeast: 8 Butler, 2 Florida
Best Case Scenario: North Carolina (East), Connecticut (West), Kansas (Southwest), Butler (Southeast)
This would give you semifinals matchups of two multiple championship winning coaches with marquee programs on one side (Roy Williams and Jim Calhoun). On the other side, you would have Bill Self and one good (albeit familiar) Cinderella, although are you really a Cinderella if you played in the finals last year? My answer -- if you're in the Horizon League, if your coach looks like he's skipping algebra class, if your best player from last season is now playing for the Utah Jazz, and if you had to beat a number one seed in the round of 32, then yes, you're a Cinderella.
Suitable replacements in the "best case," Kentucky in the East based on tradition and name value, and maybe Ohio State setting up a Sullinger versus Kemba semifinal.
Worst Case Scenario: Marquette (East), Arizona (West), Richmond (Southwest), Butler (Southeast)
Strange thing about this quartet -- Butler is part of the "best-case" and "worst-case" scenarios? Well, yeah, because in this quartet, Butler might actually be damn near the favorite to win the whole thing! The Butler inclusion as the rogue 8 seed in a Final Four of heavyweights? Good. The Butler inclusion in a Final Four of Butler's little stepbrothers? Meh, give me Billy Donovan's Eddie Munster haircut.
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Okay, time to go home and watch myself follow up a 4-0 Thursday with the inevitable 0-4 Friday. Before I go, if you haven't heard Channel 2's Adam Clanton's impersonation of nationally syndicated talk show host Jim Rome, then you're missing out. And I hate to have our readers miss out.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from noon to 3PM weekdays and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.