Never before have I enjoyed a Final Four so much. In fact, never before have I enjoyed TWO Final Fours so much.
The storylines were thick for me this past weekend.
1. I had my hometown team going up against the team of the state I now live in.
2. I had my favorite college basketball team going up against my father-in-law’s favorite college basketball team.
3. The chance for another major state university in South Carolina to join Coastal Carolina (school I work at) and Clemson as national champions was on the table…twice.
In the end, it all seemed to work out perfectly. Well, I should probably wait until later tonight to say that. But as of right now, things are about as good as they can be.
Gonzaga defeated South Carolina in the men’s basketball national semifinal round on Saturday night. To be honest, I was cheering for the Bulldogs all the way. I have roots with Gonzaga and I have cheered for the Zags my whole life so I couldn’t help it. However, if the Bulldogs did stumble, it wouldn’t have completely destroyed my life. I would have taken solace in the fact that my wife (who openly cheered for the Gamecocks during the game) and my father-in-law would be happy campers. I also would have delighted in the fact that it would set up South Carolina to win a national championship and make our state look really good. If you remember, CCU won the baseball title in June and Clemson took home the football trophy in January. For the University of South Carolina to complete the trifecta with a basketball title would have been huge.
Turns out that even though the Gamecock men ended up losing, a basketball national championship for the state was still won. The women’s basketball team at the University of South Carolina cruised through the women’s Final Four to achieve glory. The Gamecock ladies defeated giant slayer Mississippi State to bring the third major NCAA sanctioned national championship to the Palmetto State in nine months.
Don’t think the Chanticleers and Tigers wanted to see the Gamecocks falter on the national title stage. Both fan bases of CCU and Clemson enthusiastically cheered for the University of South Carolina, a sentiment that was shared on social media by both schools. I had the pleasure of working with Robbie Fitzwater, Clemson’s social media director, to engage in a good natured Twitter dialogue that left no doubt that our schools stood behind our rival in Columbia. The conversation was a huge success as it was heavily retweeted and picked up by the media.
So with Gonzaga advancing to the national championship and with the state of South Carolina already capturing its third national title in nine months, there remains just one thing left to do: The Bulldogs need to win!!
It would be a huge deal if the little Jesuit school in eastern Washington pulled off the win tonight against North Carolina. It would make me extremely happy and it would cap the most memorable Final Four year of my life. Let’s see how it all plays out. Go Gonzaga! Don’t Blink.