Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Beasts Are Better Than Fairy Tales

The question was originally posed by Jock Jams and has blared from arena P.A. systems ever since: “Y’all Ready for This?”

On the eve of what could be the greatest three days of college basketball in recent memory, the query begs to be asked again: Are we, in fact, prepared for what we may witness this weekend?

This year’s Final Four has the potential to be more entertaining for sports fans than the lovechild of LeBron James and ichelle Wie. It has been years since college hoops’ closing week has been this rich in talent, storylines and King Kong vs. Godzilla matchups.

“I was thinking that last night. I was like, `Man, what a great final four,'” Jeremiah Rivers said Tuesday. “All the teams, and the history, the magnitude of the players, the NBA prospects – Oden and Cook, and what’s his name? Noah, Brewer – you can just go down the line.”

Rivers is right. This could get good – think Jack Bauer-in-Air Force Ones-and-a-headband good.

For the first time since the NCAA expanded the tourney field in 1985, the Final Four includes two one-seed vs. two-seed contests, with the possibility of the two top seeds squaring off in the championship for only the fifth time in tournament history. For those who have forgotten, past No. 1 vs. No. 1 dramas include ichael Jordan’s last-second shocker to lift North Carolina over Georgetown in ’82 and Chris Webber’s last-second blunder to push North Carolina past Michigan in ’93.

Saturday’s semifinal action alone features two payback matches, as Ohio State looks to avenge their second-round loss to Georgetown last year and the Bruins of UCLA seek retribution for the swamping they befell at the hands of the Florida Gators in last season’s title game. Should Billy Donovan’s bunch blast the Bruins once again, the stage will be set for the third settling of scores in as many days. You can bet the suits in the CBS front office are rubbing Billy Packer’s bald head for good luck and praying the Hoyas advance for a chance to retaliate for Corey Brewer’s late-game heroics in the 2006 Minneapolis regional final, but they would no doubt settle for a rematch of January’s BCS title game between the Gators and Buckeyes, on one condition: Thad Matta has to wear a sweater vest.

The Final Four teams cut a swath through the country, spanning all regions and demographics. You have two mascots that need no explanation (Bruins and Gators), as well as a pair that are the answer to that mind-numbing question in the last round of Trivial Pursuit. With know-it-all announcer Jim Nantz calling the game on CBS, the whole country may finally discover that a Buckeye is neither a buck, nor an eye, and that a Hoya has absolutely nothing to do with bulldogs, Bill Clinton (SFS ’68) or “The Exorcist.” Saturday’s UCLA-Florida game pits East Coast versus West, red state vs. blue, California grapefruit against Florida oranges. The only way it could get any better is if Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jeb Bush arm-wrestled at half time.

Speaking of politics, Georgetown is the only one of the four institutions to boast an alumnus who made it to the White House, though the Buckeye State has produced eight presidents, and former Bruins John Erlichmann and H.R. Haldeman brought infamy to the Oval Office in Watergate, trumping former UCLA Head Coach Jim Harrick as the biggest crooks to ever come out of Westwood.

Perhaps what’s best about this year’s finals is who isn’t there. For the second consecutive year, the finals will be without any of perennial basketball powers Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky or Kansas. Before 2006, the last Final Four devoid of Rock-Chalk-Jayhawk, Ashley Judd, baby blue and Mike Krzyzewski was 1987. For the second year in a row, coaching whiz kids Donovan and Ben Howland match wits in the Final Four, and with Matta and John Thompson III making their first finals appearances, it seems the coaching torch has been passed from Krzyzewski, Bob Knight and Rick Pitino to the waiting hands of a new generation of sideline generals.

As heartwarming as George Mason’s fairytale run was last year, I for one am glad the clock struck midnight on all the Cinderella stories this year. While Mason’s astonishing march to the finals was refreshing, the 2006 Final Four was arguably the worst display of basketball since Wisconsin edged Washington State in a 39-34 barnburner in 1941.

No, the glass slipper fits 7-foot behemoths like Greg Oden and Roy Hibbert much more comfortably, and we as hoops fans are better off for it. Just ask Jonathan Wallace, who after sending Georgetown’s Elite Eight nail-biter with Carolina in overtime by sinking a three with 31 seconds left proved he has quite the flair for the dramatic.

“I can’t imagine a better one,” Wallace said, a day before his Hoyas hit the road for Atlanta. “All these four teams that are in it – they all bring something special to the table, and that’s one of the components that make it such a great Final Four.”

Asked which scuffle in the ATL piques his interest the most, Wallace could keep the fair-and-balanced-facade no longer.

“Georgetown and Ohio State,” Wallace said with a who-do-you-take-me-for snicker. “You got Greg Oden and Roy Hibbert going against each other. What could be better than that?”

My point exactly Jon. My point exactly.

Harlan Goode is a junior in the College and the features editor of The Hoya. He can be reached at goodethehoya.com.

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