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A Jayhawks Fan Wished Villanova had Won the 2009 Final Four
Why a KU fan rooted for Villanova
I am a lifelong fan of the Kansas Jayhawks basketball program. I first noticed them in the early 1970's, and I have cheered them on for over 35 years, two NCAA championships, three second place finishes, and nine Final Fours. KU has a rich history matched or surpassed by few programs, and for this reason I was rooting for Villanova to win the 2009 NCAA Men's Basketball championship. North Carolina prevented that from happening, which left me with two teams to root against and none to root for. Let me add that UConn fans shouldn't feel left out--I didn't want them to win, either.
I suppose I should explain. My desire to see Villanova cut down the nets has nothing to do with any dislike for the other three outstanding basketball teams participating in this year's Final Four--indeed, it is because they are so good that I wanted them to lose. Let's take the three teams one at a time, starting with Connecticut. UConn had won two NCAA championships (now three), and was poised to take a third before they were defeated by the Michigan State Spartans. Were they to win the title, they would have joined UCLA, Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina, Duke and Kansas as the only teams to win more than two NCAA titles. Pretty elite company if I say so myself--a crowd they now run with.
Michigan State won the NCAA title in 2000 and in 1979, and if they managed to beat North Carolina Monday night, they would have done what UConn could not--join KU and five other teams as the only college programs to win more than two NCAA championships. To keep the company KU walks with as rare as possible, I hoped the Spartans would not win the 2009 title.
Which brings us to the North Carolina Tar Heels and their silver-haired coach, Roy Williams. Now, Carolina has already won four titles and, using the same criteria I've applied to UConn and MSU, it would seem I would be satisfied if the Tar Heels were crowned champions. They would not add a new school to the list of those with two or more titles, and KU's elite status would be preserved.
Not so fast. KU is dueling with Carolina for another record, as well--total victories. Entering the 2008-2009 season, KU was seven victories behind North Carolina in the chase for second place in all-time wins. Although KU had a fine season, Carolina will double that gap this year, and it would take a total collapse in the years to come for KU to surpass them. Next year, Carolina will look a lot like KU did this year with a number of players graduating or bolting to the NBA, so the gap could be bridged somewhat. I hope so. But there's another issue--their coach.
I'm a fan of Roy Williams and appreciate the excellence he brought to Kansas basketball during the fifteen years he served as head coach. It always irritated me that he couldn't win a national championship for us, however, and when he brought a title to North Carolina in only his second year, it seemed a cheat somehow. For "old Roy" to do it again only a few years later would suggest that he was dogging it at KU (which I don't believe) or that North Carolina is the superior program (which I don't want to believe) and subsequently an environment that Roy Williams finds easier to thrive in. It isn't about Roy Williams, it's about the pride I feel for KU basketball. I want to feel that pride is justified and that KU is a program on a par with any in the country, but doggone it, ol' Roy won't let me feel that way. He's taking the Tar Heels to new heights that even KU alum Dean Smith didn't achieve.
That's why I was rooting for Villanova--they don't threaten to share KU's legacy of greatness; not yet, at least. I hoped Villanova would win because the other teams are just so good. I wanted the Wildcats to replace the Jayhawks as NCAA champions because UConn, Michigan State and North Carolina are so very outstanding.
I am convinced KU and Coach Bill Self has a few more titles to win themselves, and if they can keep Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich in school while adding some talented newcomers, they could be in the hunt again as early as next season. And, let us not forget that KU was crowned national champions twice before the NCAA and its tournament existed; in 1922 and 1923. I count those championships even if the NCAA does not. The inclusion of the Helms championships gives KU five titles. But no one talks about those very much, and when NCAA champions are crowned, the record shows KU with three titles.
Update for 2010
March 2010 is here and the madness is about to begin again. Villanova faltered down the stretched and has been supplanted by Duke as the team most likely to earn a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament, along with Syracuse, Kansas and Kentucky. While Villanova has likely dropped to a #2 seed or perhaps a #3, no one wants to see this talented, experienced team in their bracket.
They have three guards that are all complete players--those guys can all shoot, pass and defend. Their post players get too little credit because of the outstanding play of the guards, but they can hold their own against most teams. And, this team has experience. They made it to the Final Four in 2009. They know what to do and how to get it done.
My home town school is Kansas, considered one of the best teams in the country. They are hoping to be one of the four teams left standing in April. You can certainly bet that when the brackets are announced, they will be hoping that Villanova is playing somewhere else!
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