Here’s how I surmised it all came down. (At least through the smoke rings of my mind.)
Naismithius was trying to figure out how to finish this thing off.
Keep St. Peter’s ride going? Toss underrated Jim Larrañagga a bone, thereby depriving in-NCAA’s-crosshairs Bill Self a spot? Keep Houston in the hunt?
So, not quite sure how it should all move forward, he texted Dickie V. (Whom he would have called except that Mr. College Basketball can’t talk due to health issues.)
N: “Dick, what I should I do here? Strike it midnight for the Cinderfellas from Joisey? Go with chalk? Help me out.”
DV: “Are you kiddin’ me? Blue Devils. Tar Heels. Greatest rivalry in sports. Never played in the Dance. Coach K’s final ride. In the semis. C’mon, babyeee, Got To Be.”
N: “OK, the others?”
DV: “Yo, paisan, I’m not doin’ all the work. Goombah, figure the rest out yourself.”
* * * * *.
What we have upcoming, in a year of college hoops for which wackamundo is the only apt description, followed by a tournament as exciting as any in history (at least until an Elite Eight quartet of tilts that underwhelmed), we get the blue bloodiest of Final Fours.
Noblemen only need apply.
Duke. North Carolina. Kansas. Villanova.
61 Final Four appearances.
17 national championships.
15 runners up. (Or, runner ups???)
Seven Thousand Seven Hundred all-time victories. Give or take a W or deux.
Could it be any more aristocratic?
Welllllll, maybe, replace Rock Chalk and Nova with UCLA and Kentucky and the stats above would be slightly more glossy.
But it’s a matter of degree. No nits to pick here. Besides — John Houseman voice — these are the four that earned it the old fashioned way.
In a manner, frankly, it is a fitting final weekend to this season.
* * * * *
Could it have happened any other way in this the Year of Coach K?
Asking for someone who doesn’t understand the lay of the land.
An added date on the Coach K Retirement Tour. Don’t forget the merch tent in the lobby.
Duke vs. North Carolina one more once.
Especially after that smackdown in the GOAT’s last game in Cameron Indoor.
I am not a gambling man. Yet, were I a bettor, I wouldn’t wager a ha’penny against a revenge-minded Mike Krzyzewski with his beady eyes two wins from more scalps on his totem pole of titles. Especially one smeared with tar.
Two fellas you might have heard of walked off the court for the final time after capturing the national crown in their last game. Keeping with the theme, both Ws were against Blue Bloods.
John Wooden over the Kentucky Wildcats in ‘75.
Al McGuire two years later over Dean Smith and North Carolina. (Peripheral note: His championship team featured Butch Lee whose son was a key component of the St. Peter’s Peacock legerdemain.)
There does seem to be some inevitability creeping in here. As if we shouldn’t have seen it coming.
It’s hard to conjure Coach K losing to Carolina again. Villanova’s in trouble, their already short handed squad sadly down Justin Moore with a torn Achilles. Kansas is good, but karma’s gotta catch up, right?
But, that’s why they play the games.
Stay tuned. It’s going to be veddy veddy intéressant.
— c d kaplan