Syracuse and Louisville provide a reminder of what we messed up

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It would be real easy for me to sit down and pen a column about the fact that the Big East has sent to ACC teams, Syracuse (who leaves after the season) and Louisville (who will spend one more year in the league before bouncing) to the Final Four.

I could write that in my sleep.

I’ve done it already, right before the Big East tournament.

But the more I think about it, the happier that I am that the Big East finally blew up, because what it had become was a bloated, watered down disaster. Georgetown and SMU? Providence and Central Florida? Seton Hall and Houston? Who has any desire to see those teams play?

Hell, I wouldn’t be all that upset if they traded DePaul for someone like St. Joseph’s or La Salle or VCU.

The bottom line is that this season’s version of the conference — the one that still counted Pitt, Syracuse, Louisville and Rutgers as members — still isn’t what the Big East was in it’s glory days. Not when UConn plays Syracuse, Pitt, Villanova and Georgetown once in a season while drawing home-and-homes with South Florida and DePaul. That’s the Big East basketball we all reminisce about? St. John’s looking to get revenge for an early-season loss at home to Tulsa?

But that’s the beauty of Louisville and Syracuse both making the Final Four this season.

You see, one day, I think the new Big East will eventually have a chance to be as relevant as the Big East was in its glory days. It’s loaded with schools that value and invest money in basketball. Butler, Xavier, Georgetown, St. Louis, Creighton, Marquette, Villanova. Those are all really good basketball programs that will make annual pushes deep into the tournament. And, once they start playing each other two or three times in a season, rivalries will emerge. Butler and Marquette already seem to have a healthy dislike for each other after playing a couple of classics recently. You don’t think Georgetown and Xavier or St. Louis and Villanova can do the same? All it takes is one shoving match or one hard foul or one buzzer-beater.

Hell, the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry, one of the best in college basketball, grew out of John Thompson Jr. saying “Manley Fieldhouse is now closed.”

So I don’t think Big East basketball is dead. It’s going to be different, but it’s not dead.

But Syracuse and Louisville playing on the season’s final weekend is a not-so-subtle reminder that we screwed up an awesome thing with realignment.

I, for one, take a bit of happiness out of that.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

2017 NCAA Tournament Final Four schedule, tip times, and announcer pairings

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National Semifinals– Saturday, April 1

6:09 p.m. EST, CBS, Glendale
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

Approximately 40 minutes after conclusion of first game, CBS, Glendale
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Oregon (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

VIDEO: The insane final 10 seconds of North Carolina’s win over Kentucky

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North Carolina and Kentucky ended in legendary fashion on Sunday.

After freshman Malik Monk buried a heavily-contested three-pointer to tie the game at 73-all for Kentucky with under 10 seconds left the Tar Heels didn’t use a timeout as Theo Pinson found forward Luke Maye for the game-winning jumper.

These 10 seconds will go down as one of the greatest finishes in NCAA Tournament history.

No. 1 seed North Carolina outlasts No. 2 seed Kentucky to advance to the Final Four

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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North Carolina advanced to the Final Four for the second consecutive season and 20th time overall as the No. 1 seed Tar Heels outlasted No. 2 seed Kentucky, 75-73, during Sunday’s South Regional final in Memphis.

Reserve forward Luke Maye knocked in the game-winning jumper for the Tar Heels with 0.3 seconds left to break a 73-all tie after Kentucky’s Malik Monk tied the game with a three-pointer on the previous possession.

The Tar Heels (31-7) overcame an ankle issue from junior point guard Joel Berry as North Carolina was led by Justin Jackson’s 19 points.

Maye also stepped up with a big game for North Carolina as he continued his strong March with 17 points. Berry added 11 points, as he went to the locker room during the first half to get his ankle looked at before returning to play later in the half.

Kentucky (32-6) won the regular-season matchup of these teams, 103-100, in Las Vegas in December as their freshmen guards struggled to perform on Sunday. After De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk combined for 71 points in that previous win over the Tar Heels, the two freshmen studs couldn’t get going.

Both of them dealt with first-half foul trouble as Fox finished with 13 points while Monk was held to 12 points. Also battling foul trouble in the first half, freshman Bam Adebayo added 13 points for the Wildcats.

With Fox and Monk struggling to generate consistent offense, the Wildcats were able to stay in the game thanks to great performances from reserves like Isaac Humphries (career-high 12 points) and senior Dominique Hawkins (10 points.

North Carolina advances to face No. 3 seed Oregon in next weekend’s Final Four.

VIDEO: South Carolina celebrates Final Four trip by dousing Frank Martin in water

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South Carolina earned its first trip to the Final Four with its win over SEC-rival Florida on Sunday.

The Gamecocks made sure to celebrate properly when head coach Frank Martin hit the locker room after the game by dousing him in water before Martin gave another speech.

https://twitter.com/marchmadness/status/846124174259118080/video/1

VIDEO: Darius Rucker tears up as South Carolina advances to the Final Four

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Darius Rucker, the former front man of Hootie and the Blowfish and a current star in the country music world, is a lifelong South Carolina Gamecocks fan.

This isn’t really a secret.

Hell, on Friday night at a concert he was playing, Rucker set up TVs so that he would be able to watch South Carolina take on Baylor:

You probably didn’t realize just how big of a fan he actually is until you saw him, sitting second row at the regional final in New York City on Sunday afternoon, tearing up as the Gamecocks advanced to the Final Four:

Let ’em cry, Darius, if the tears fall down like rain.