JOE BIDDLE: Then there were four

Joe-Biddle
NCAA Duke Kansas Basketball_1522034355180

Kansas’ Silvio De Sousa celebrates by cutting down the net after defeating Duke in a regional final game in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament Sunday, March 25, 2018, in Omaha, Neb. Kansas won 85-81 in overtime. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

At last.

After 68 college basketball teams had a chance to be the final team standing in March Madness, they would be whittled away until they were four teams, known as the Final Four.

There were a number of stories behind the stories with a number of teams. It was a puzzle that was top shelf mystery. March Madness brackets became shredded, blotted out with red ink and blurred by tears. Some were set on fire.

Here are the four teams going to San Antonio: Loyola Chicago is an 11-seed, the longest of longshots, but they became the best story of the tournament.

The Missouri Valley Conference champion, accompanied by the amazing 98-year old Catholic chaplain of the Loyola-Chicago team, Sister Jean, gathered fans from every part of the country.

Well, the Cinderella of Cinderella’s will be in San Antonio. They knocked off 3-seed Tennessee, Miami, and will meet No. 3 Michigan in the first Final Four game Saturday. Now they are swimming in the deep end of the pool.

Villanova is a second team that is highly valued by experts. They are experienced in March Madness games and they will get tested by No. 2 seed Kansas.

Kansas Coach Bill Self got the monkey off his back when his team made it to the most spectacular game of next week. They have had a pattern of having perhaps the most loaded team in the bracket, only to get upset in early rounds.

Not this year. The No. 2 seeded Jayhawks tangled with Duke through regulation and it took overtime to them to best the 1-seeded Blue Devils, 85-81.

“Both teams had a chance to win the game,’’ offered Duke’s College Basketball Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski. “Our guys played their hearts, but so did Kansas. (Our guys) lost to a hell of a team.’’

Kansas meets Villanova in Saturday’s semifinal and that should be another heavyweight fight. That leaves Loyola-Chicago against Big Ten’s Michigan in the other semifinal game.

That will truly be David against Goliath matchup. Or so you think. I believe Loyola might pack a slingshot and a rock for the trip to Texas.

Joe Biddle is a WKRN.com sports columnist. He is also a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame. Contact him at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

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