First, as an alum of the University of Wisconsin, let me say Go Bucky!
What a thrill to watch Wisconsin beat Kentucky in the semi-final on Saturday. The level of play was amazing. I loved that many of the Wisconsin players come from Wisconsin, and are seniors. Unlike Duke, their opponent tonight, which is largely a 1-year stop-off point on the way to the NBA. A national team of soon-to-be-pros. "One and done."
Yesterday afternoon, I saw the Oklahoma City Thunder play the Houston Rockets, another spectacular game, pitting two very different leading players, both guards, at the absolute peak of their game, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. It's clear that the young college players, while great in their own way, have a long way to go before they can play at this level. Almost no one does. They fly and twist and mislead, and make you gasp they're so light and agile. Another thrill.
Finally last night a game between the New York Knicks and the Philadelphia 76ers, two of the worst teams in the NBA, both going absolutely nowhere. I don't want to go into all the weirdness, but in some ways for these teams, losing is winning and winning is losing. It was basketball at its most laborious and lackadaisical. Worth watching just for its obscurity. This is how far you can fall and still be in the NBA.
It's worth mentioning because a bit of trivia came up during the Knicks game. There are three current Knicks who played in an NCAA Final. To fall so far. I couldn't think of one. I didn't believe there were any. The answer: 1. Carmelo Anthony of course (doh) on Syracuse in 2003. 2. Cole Aldrich played with Kansas in 2008. 3. Lance Thomas with Duke in 2010.
If you watch the Final game tonight, as you watch those wonderful young players, some of whom must imagine glory like Harden or Westbrook in their future, but for many this is the highest they'll reach. The NBA is filled with guys who played in the NCAA finals, wondering what happened.