The Final Four lived up to expectations, even if the officiating was questioned, as Wichita State and Louisville put on a great show and Syracuse and Michigan followed with another.
What can you say about Wichita? They have more than proved that they belong on this stage. They were athletic, creative, and ferociously aggressive. We were certain that with a double digit lead and Louisville in foul trouble that the game was over.
Should've known better.
Louisville mounted a classic Pitino comeback behind guys like Luke Hancock, Tim Henderson and Stephan Van Treese, not everyday names to most of the nation.
But there was walk-on Henderson nailing key threes and Hancock doing pretty much everything. It's one of the great stories of the tournament.
Suddenly Wichita State, so steady for most of the game, was rattled and couldn't hold on to the ball.
When your bench can come through like that, good things are going to happen.
Before their game with Michigan, Syracuse's Brandon Triche was dismissive of the Wolverines, saying that SU's length would produce mismatches.
There were mismatches alright, but they mostly went Michigan's way. And as it turned out, the key play was when the 6-4 Triche sought a mismatch and drove on 6-8 Jordan Morgan, only to be called for a charge.
Mitch McGary absolutely gave Syracuse fits as he was able to play in the post, pass, shoot medium range jumpers, rebound, block shots and just generally play ball. The guy has played himself into the lottery if he chooses to go, and with this year's draft being historically weak, he could go quite high.
All of this sets up a really interesting matchup Monday night. Like everyone else, McGary will have trouble down low with Gorgui Dieng, but Dieng can't go everywhere he can. And the matchup with Louisville's backcourt and Trey Burke, who did struggle against Syracuse, should be great.
We have the greatest respect for Michigan's offense, and defense for that matter, but here's the key to us: as good as Michigan has been, they're still a very young team. And history tells us that very young teams don't have an easy game in the title game. You can look at Duke in 1978 or the Fab Five for examples. There are others; we can't think of one that succeeded.
Speaking of the Fab Five, in the ESPN documentary, Jalen Rose said that while his team didn't win anything, their legacy was that they changed perceptions and the game.
Okay, fair enough, but there is more to their legacy, and that's this: the scandals around the Fab Five basically destroyed Michigan basketball for a generation. It's taken this long for the program to recover.
Maybe the next documentary will have a different perspective.