If a Final Four happens and Kentucky’s not in it, does it happen at all? Unfortunately, yes. On Saturday, four teams will vie for spots in Monday night’s National Championship game, and now that Duke’s not one of them, I’m considering watching.
If you’re feeling the same, here’s how we can cope.
Root for Loyola
This is the obvious move. Not only is Loyola the underdog, they’ve got Sister Jean, a figure so lovable I’m shocked the Vatican hasn’t declared her a saint yet. The 98-year-old Loyola chaplain does the Ramblers’ scouting reports and, even though she doesn’t actually have a Twitter account on which she trolls opposing fans, she’s so sassy that 14,500 people thought she did. Plus, she’s just one of many great things about Loyola.
Their fans come to games draped in Harry Potter-like scarves, allowing all of us HP nerds to geek out and tweet Gryffindor GIFs. And, the program’s been here before. The Ramblers won the title back in 1963 with four black starters (and there’s a Kentucky connection), a feat often overlooked because Texas Western won it three years later with five. Sister Jean was 43 back then:
Still not enough? Karl Towns’ high school teammate Marques Townes is Loyola’s star and hit a clutch three to move the Ramblers past Kansas State for a spot in the Final Four. Towns congratulated him afterwards:
Root for the former Cat
Cheering for a player who decided to leave Kentucky may seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Matthews transferred to Michigan after one year at Kentucky for more playing time, and he got it. Now a junior, Matthews averages nearly 30 minutes per game after averaging only 10 at Kentucky. He’s scoring 16.5 points per game in the NCAA Tournament so far, and was named the MVP of the West Region. Given Kentucky’s lack of upperclassmen, it’s easy to wonder what could have been had Matthews stayed, but we should all follow Calipari’s lead and congratulate him on his success:
Appreciate it Coach. Love you my guy. @UKCoachCalipari
— Charles Matthews (@1CMatthews) March 26, 2018
Basically, you can’t go wrong with the winner of this game.
Root for Villanova because they’re playing Kansas
Nothing about Villanova excites me — more like VANILLANOVA, amirite? — but I will cheer for them for one simple reason: they’re playing Kansas. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Kansas like I do Duke, Louisville, or North Carolina, but they do go after the same players Kentucky does and would only look better with a fourth national title — or sixth, if you count Helms titles like most of their fans do, a habit that should make you root against them all on its own. On the other hand, another Villanova national championship would be pretty forgettable, which is exactly what I’m looking for from this tournament.
Root for Kansas because they beat Duke
Hahaha. Yeah, no. Thanks, Jayhawks, but you’ve served your purpose.
Who will you cheer for this weekend? Or will you even watch at all?