There's no doubt the game has slowed—and you don't need a statistician to figure it out. Check out the highlights from 1999's championship game between Duke and UConn. Guys are thundering up and down the court—stopping, popping, and dropping. It's high-flying, run-and-gun jet-powered basketball. Last year's UConn team, by comparison, looks like an Edsel stuck in the mud. The Huskies' 53 points were the lowest score by a championship-winning team since 1949.
Given that my beloved Jayhawks are winning with that Selfsame gritty, bump, slap and dive-to-the-floor style of play, however, it's hard for me to complain. But, like Joe Walsh, sometime I still do. Sure, it's easy to long for the frantic late 90's, when everyone was trying to catch up with Jerry Tarknain's Running Rebels at UNLV.
Still, the pretentious little basketball purist in me loves to see fundamentally sound defense. Like in KU's tilt with North Carolina on Sunday, for instance. With 11:52 left in the game, the Tar Heels had scored 61 points. Then Kansas dropped the hammer, throwing down a nasty "triangle-and-two" defense—a hybrid scheme using three defenders in zone coverage, and two in man-to-man on the other team's top scorers.
Oh, it was disgusting—in a good way. The Heels scored only six more points, finishing with 67. They didn't score a single bucket in the game's last 3:58. Not one. That's just savage.
So, as for predictions about this weekend, I'll just say that defense don't slump. But I'll also confess a complete inability to be unbiased. The only thing I can say for sure is that, come Monday night, should KU be lucky enough to win it all, I'll be among that delirious throng packing downtown Lawrence. Oh, it's also safe to say that, no matter what the chancellor thinks, a championship for KU on Monday night would mean some very poorly attended classes on Tuesday morning.
Jake, I'm clearly way too emotionally involved for a rational analysis. What's your take? Can anyone stop Kentucky? And, moreover, will anyone score more than 70 points the whole weekend?