Saturday, April 05, 2008

1 Seeds

Everyone's talking about the fact that for the first time ever, we've got four 1 seeds in the Final Four. What hasn't been mentioned much (except for me when I called in to one of the local sports talk radio stations) is that three of those four 1 seeds are 3 of the 4 all-time best programs. No disrespect to Memphis, but imagine if Kentucky had had a more normal year and made it in as a 1 seed instead of the Tigers? The three all-time winningest programs plus the one that has won the most championships? Ah well. As it is, we shouldn't ignore the fact that while Memphis has been inconsistent, they certainly have been there before. I'm old enough to remember Bill Walton scoring 44 points in the 1973 championship game against a Larry Kenon-led Memphis State team and they had some other good teams since then.

And given that they're up 10 on UCLA with less than 8 minutes to go, they're looking scary good.


This Edition

I've seen a number of articles and blogs lately with people talking about their favorite edition of the Tar Heels. The old-timers talk about the Lennie Rosenbluth 1957 undefeated team or the Charlie Scott-Larry Miller squad of 1968 that challenged UCLA in the final game. I was particularly fond of the 1977 team that fought through a rash of injuries to Phil Ford, Walter Davis and others to win the ACC Tournament and make it to the final game before losing to Marquette (a game I'm betting Dean Smith STILL doesn't want to talk about). The '82 team seemed almost invincible, despite having no fewer losses than the current batch - no one could explain how Wake Forest could have beaten Worthy, Perkins and Jordan in Carmichael that year. The '93 team had an air of inevitability after the hype of the Montross/Phelps/Reece/Sullivan freshman class. In '05, it felt like redemption and release for the guys like JWilliams, Manuel and Scott that had lived through 8-20 and for May, Felton and McCants who'd stuck around despite the problems and the changes. This team, for all its talent and record and rankings, has not felt invincible or inevitable or in need of redemption. It seems to be motivated more by a desire to prove themselves worthy successors to the Carolina legend - to look into the stands at Sean May and Ray Felton and Wes Miller and their championship rings and say "hey, we've got ours now". You know what? Whatever works.

Adam Lucas at TarHeelBlue thought recently that we haven't enjoyed this team nearly enough - that we've been worried too much about Ty's injury and Bobby Frasor's injury and whether Hansbrough was getting too banged up to sit back and relish watching one of the best Tar Heel teams of all times. I'll admit that I might have felt that way into February, but once Q came in after Ty went down and the team only got better, I've been enjoying the ride more than just about any team I can remember. The '97 team with Jamison, Carter, Cota and Zwikker that lost to Arizona in the Final Four was probably my favorite non-championship team but the current edition, win or lose, may have now passed them.