Cinderella: A Shaq Story

The Cinderella story in this year’s Final Four (feel free to look at the adorable picture of Shaq right about now) is Michigan State, but are they? Technically, yes. The Spartans came in as a 7 seed, but finished the season playing their best ball, and their preseason ranking (18th) indicates their talent. (Highly ranked preseason teams often re-emerge during March Madness.) Case in point: Last year’s Kentucky Wildcats, the preseason #1 but an 8 seed in the Big Dance that beat 1 seed Wichita State in the round of 32 and made it all the way to the Championship Game, just like Michigan State can do this year.

[Before I continue, let us take a moment to appreciate the second-best commercial of March Madness, in which AT&T dialing up more comedy. This year’s ads, starring “March Madness Legends” Shaq, Dr. J, Clyde Drexler, Christian Laettner (but I still hate him), does not meet the high standards of the 2014 March Madness commercial genius (“Fast or Slow” with adorable kids, and then Bill Russell, Larry Bird, and Kareem).]

So: Michigan State is NOT a Cinderella story. They have coach Tom Izzo, who knows what he’s doing come March. The 2000 NCAA champ has made it to the Big Dance 18 straight seasons, reached the Sweet Sixteen an astounding 13 times with Michigan State, including seven of the last eight years, and is now in the Final Four for the seventh time. Playing the 4 seed Louisville in the Elite Eight, Michigan State was still favored by 2.5 points.

While Michigan State is the 7 seed they are in no way, shape, or form an underdog.

The Final Four is in di Annapolis (That’s A Turrible Headline, Chuck)

Kentucky.  Wisconsin.  Michigan State.  Duke.

These are the teams that have made it to this year’s Final Four in Indianapolis’s Lucas Oil Stadium, which seems to host all major sport events nowadays.  Of the remaining four, three were Number One seeds and all represent one of the “big 6” conferences, but that isn’t to say this year’s March Madness was anything but Madness. After Kentucky’s complete undressing of trash-talking West Virginia in the Sweet 16, all four Elite Eight the Elite Eight games were tight, giving Vegas gamblers continuous stress, and causing lots of money to exchange hands in the final seconds even of already-decided games. But even we non-Vegas -level gamblers had it tough this season, as millions of brackets were busted early when Iowa State and Baylor were dropped in the first round. After the Round of 64, there was only perfect entry left on’s massive tournament, and its creator only had 15 minutes to fill out his bracket, and hadn’t watched a single college basketball game all year. Take that, Jay Bilas!

Here’s the benspn prediction for the national championship: Kentucky over Michigan State, 54 – 46, but the real winners have been the Capital One commercials starring Charles Barkley, Spike Lee, and Samuel L. Jackson.