Final Four – The Road Ends Here

Final Four
Jim Quist @ACCTheQ

One after another teams last week felt their season’s slip through their fingers like unset gelatin. There was a despairingly sick thud deep in the guts of players, coaches and fans when the reality of the final buzzer brought it all to an end. In some cases, years and years of hard work were ripped away and tossed aside in the blink of an eye. For others, a realization that ‘one and done’ truly means you’ll always be left with the question, ‘what if’? Sadly, you’ll never know. For the teams that have made it to the Final Four, their moment of glory or grief will be placed into the hands of fate in the coming days. If the next two rounds are remotely similar to the Sweet 16 or the Elite 8, we humans will continue the tradition of sharing stories of glory around our modern-day fires.

Glorious stories they will be, too. The shots that beat the buzzer, those basketballs that painfully teased victory as they circled the rim but only left the agony of defeat. Who could forget the unbelievable, almost herculean efforts that forced play to continue for five more excruciating overtime minutes?

Each of the teams advancing to the Final Four, Auburn, Michigan State, Texas Tech and Virginia have more stories to tell. Each team worthy of a John Grisham novel and just like the author, leaving you wanting more.

Is one team more deserving than the other? I think you’d be hard-pressed to say so objectively. They’ve certainly earned their way to this point in the tournament.

Final Four – The Road Ends Here

The great thing about sports is that it leaves each generation of fans with their own spectacular moment. If they’re truly fortunate they’ll have more than one. I’ve logged more than my fair share from the years of watching ACC basketball since I was in elementary school. Those stories you’ve heard from some of your parents and grandparents? Yes, they’re true. The TV was wheeled out in class during the ACC Tournament. During many of those years I watched players and games that are forever burned into the folklore of basketball. Yes, each generation has their personal ‘best ever’.

I will tell you now that this past week’s worth of games have been added to my list of favorites. Often fans want to see their team blow out an opponent. On the other side of that equation is a preference for parity in sports. The desire to see a battle of talent, athleticism, intelligence and nerve. The strategy and response by coaches is equally important. That and more have been served up on a smorgasbord for basketball fans during this tournament.

We’ve seen some of the best execution of basketball that we’ve seen in the NCAA Tournament in some time. Step back and appreciate the execution, the strategy and even the human imperfection that makes this game so incredibly fun to witness.

Whether you have a dog in the hunt or not, drink in these games like a person lost in the desert would a tall glass of cool water. Even if it’s not your favorite sport don’t miss the opportunity to grasp why so many live and breathe college basketball. I promise, you won’t regret it.

Final Four – The Road Ends Here

  • Final Four
  • Saturday April 6
  • #1 Virginia – #5 Auburn 6:09pm CBS
  • #2 Michigan State – #3 Texas Tech 8:49pm CBS
  • Championship
  • Monday April 8

Will Ojanen is a member of the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. He and his wife share their thoughts on craft beer at Will and Sami’s Beer Blog. Follow him on Twitter @WillsWorldMN



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