March Madness hasn’t been kind to basketball fans in Michigan.
University of Detroit lost to Kansas in the first round — expected, but with two other 15 seeds beating powerhouses Duke and Missouri, there was a sense that Detroit might extend the streak.
Co-Big Ten Champion University of Michigan’s first-round loss to the low-seeded University of Ohio was unexpected, however. And although the Sweet Sixteen is nice, Michigan State’s awful performance on offense against Louisville was a huge disappointment for a team that, led by All-American Draymond Green, had a relatively easy path to the Final Four.
It’s been a different story for Hillsdale’s Ohio natives. Four teams from the state next door — Xavier University, Ohio State, University of Cincinnati, and University of Ohio — made the Sweet Sixteen. Ohio State is playing Kansas on Saturday for a spot in the National Championship.
Which doesn’t make things any better for the Michiganders. What is it about Ohio State and Xavier fans that makes us desperately hope their teams will get blown out? Of course, that U of M fans despise the Buckeyes is a fact of life, but Xavier? Where is that even?
The good news is, the Kentucky Wildcats stand between Ohio State and a trophy. Kentucky starts three freshmen and two sophomores, and all five of them, plus star sixth man Darius Miller, are likely to head to the NBA after this season.
The Cats are scary. Player of the Year Anthony Davis’s magnificently nasty unibrow is matched only by his ability to score, rebound, and block shots. Terrence Jones looks — and plays — like he wants to eat you. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (projected as the No. 2 pick in the upcoming draft, after Davis) led the Wildcats with 24 points and 10 boards as they put up 102 points last week against Indiana, the only team that beat Kentucky in the regular season. Six players average 10 or more points per game, and three average seven-plus rebounds.
It’s the Final Four, the Holy Grail of college basketball, and Kentucky hasn’t even been tested yet. In-state rival Louisville has overachieved to get to face the Cats this weekend, but that ride is about to end.
So good luck to the three teams not named Kentucky. If us Michiganders have our way, the Buckeyes will beat Kansas this weekend. There’s no humiliation in a close, hard-fought defeat.
But the Wildcats are waiting.