in runningfor Southsider Voice’s first-prize ad package valued at $675
Considered a bubble team by many before the men’s NCAA basketball tournament began, No. 9 seed Kentucky surprised none of its backers when defeating No. 2 seed Michigan 75-72 Sunday evening to earn a trip to the Final Four in Arlington, Texas.
And what a game it was in the Midwest Regional final at Lucas Oil Stadium, where 35,501 spectators saw the Wildcats’ Aaron Harrison drain a 3-pointer (his third in the final four minutes) with 2.3 seconds remaining for the victory.
Besides Wildcat Nation, Garage Doors by John Walke was pleased with the outcome because it had drawn Kentucky (28-10) in The Southsider Voice’s second annual Basketball Blitz pool. Equally emotional but on the somber side was Steve Battiato, who’s Indyteledata company was paired with the Wolverines.
Kentucky and Michigan defeated Louisville and Tennessee, respectively, on Friday to reach the finals. The Wildcats, who have won eight national championships – the most recent coming in 2012 – are headed to the Final Four for the 16th time. Kentucky is a young team and plays seven freshmen (Harrison is one), but it’s improving every game.
Others business/team combinations still alive in the pool are Steve’s Towing and No. 1 seed Florida (36-2); RLH Ventures and No. 2 seed Wisconsin (30-7); and Annee & Matry Heating & Cooling, which drew Connecticut (29-8).
The national semifinals tip off Saturday with Florida facing UConn at 6:09 p.m. on TBS; the Wisconsin-Kentucky game follows. This marks the first time in the event’s history that it will be televised on a cable network. The winners will play for the national title at 9:10 p.m. Monday on CBS. The champion will win its corresponding company a half-page colored ad (valued at $675); second place is a quarter-page ad ($390), with third- and fourth-place finishers receiving an eighth-page ($210).
Carole Pefley, who owns Carole’s fitness center and drew Michigan State in the pool, stopped by The Voice’s office last week and was ecstatic that her team still had a chance to win it all. It’s probably a safe bet that Pefley would have been dancing through our doors on Monday had the No. 4 seed Spartans defeated UConn on Sunday.
Some are saying that Florida will roll over Connecticut, but the Huskies are no slouches. They upset No. 2 seed Villanova to reach the Sweet 16, and Shabazz Napier, their do-everything American Athletic Conference Player of the Year, could prove to be a handful for Florida’s tenacious defense. He scored 25 points against Michigan State.
The Gators, however, the 2006 and ’07 national champs, have won 30 straight games and could make it 32 by Monday evening.
Wisconsin, which started the season 16-0 and made it to the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament, will be in for a dog fight against the Wildcats, who are looking more and more like a championship team. Most analysts view this game as a toss-up and the most competitive of Saturday’s contests.
The tournament, which has made stars out of some of the players, still boasts a good story with two top seeds still in the running and a couple of surprises. With the Huskies, there is the intriguing underdog that no one ever envisioned of possibly winning the title.
Let the madness continue.