The Final Four® is set for the 2011 NCAA Tournament in men's Division I college basketball. March Madness® truly seems like March Madness® with none of the four #1 seeds nor any of the four #2 seeds making the Final Four®!
#3 seed Connecticut, #4 seed Kentucky, #8 seed Butler, and #11 seed Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) are scheduled to play in the Men's Division I NCAA College Basketball National Semifinals on Saturday, April 2, 2011.
The bracket is available on NCAA.com.* In one semifinal #3 seed Connecticut will play #4 seed Kentucky. In the other #8 seed Butler will play #11 seed VCU.
#11 seed VCU may be the crowd favorite. Since they were one of the eight teams that had to play in the opening round, they’ve played one more game than the other three schools. It would truly be amazing if they could win it all as a #11 seed!
But, personally I live in Lexington, Kentucky and am a big University of Kentucky (UK) basketball fan. Despite starting three freshmen most of the season, UK has enjoyed a great season. In fact only once this season did they lose by a double digit margin.
The one team that embarrassed Kentucky by that margin: Connecticut. The Huskies humiliated Kentucky early in the season in a tournament in Maui, Hawaii. Of course back on November 24 when Kentucky and Connecticut played Kentucky’s freshmen were just getting acclimated to college basketball. Hawaii may have been a distraction, too. The Kentucky team has come a long way since then. Still, such a humiliating loss is perhaps memorable. I am ashamed to state that my pretournament predictions did not put Connecticut in the Final Four.
Butler appeared in the Final Four® last year, losing to Duke in the championship game. It’s great to see them back as a Cinderella school, if a returning team to the Final Four® can be called a Cinderella. Butler and VCU both astonished me (and lots of others!) by getting this far!
I commend all four teams for their success as well as all the other schools that played in the tournament. In a sense, it’s a shame that all but one of the tournament teams ends its season with a loss. Thus, for three of these four outstanding basketball teams the season will end with their team on the lower end of the score.
Kentucky is a much better team than it was at the beginning of the season and has the added incentive of desiring revenge for Connecticut’s big win early in the season (if any added incentive is necessary at this stage of the tournament). I expect the game to be much closer. But in the end I think Connecticut will pull out a close win in that semifinal matchup.
Butler is the favorite over VCU based on the seed and has Final Four® experience from last year. I pick Butler to win the other semifinal.
In the championship game, I think Connecticut will win over Butler.
But based on how my pretournament predictions worked out, don’t expect my predictions to be accurate. However, I do expect three wonderful games to conclude this exciting NCAA tournament! March Madness® is here!
* NCAA; "NCAA Men's Basketball Division I Bracket"; NCAA.com; http://www.ncaa.com/brackets/basketball-men/d1/2011 (Website accessed March 27, 2011.)