Are you like me, suddenly finding it hard to pick a team to root for in the 2014 NCAA Final Four? As a casual observer, is there one team that stands out as the team we should all be rooting for to win?
This feels like an odd Final Four. There are huge programs, big stars and great coaches, but there's not that one team everyone should root for like in past seasons.
Last year, casual fans had the pick of two great basketball stories, both on and, unfortunately, off the court. First, there was the gut-wrenching injury to Kevin Ware of Louisville which thrust him into the national spotlight—he was on Late Night with David Letterman before the Cardinals played a game in last year's Final Four—and gave casual fans a feel-good story to latch on to in Atlanta. Second, there was the Shocker of all tournament shockers, as Wichita State busted the bracket all the way to the Final Four.
2012 gave us the pick-a-side battle between Kentucky and Louisville—read: John Calipari and Rick Pitino—in the Final Four. In 2011, casual fans could choose between Butler and VCU to play the role of underdog, a role the Bulldogs reprised after nearly beating Duke in the title game the year before.
Casual fans of college basketball have had it pretty good the last few years. But this year? Nobody really jumps out at you.
Unless you attended one of the schools in the Final Four, or perhaps live in a state represented by the four teams competing for this year's championship*, it feels kind of hard to pick which bandwagon to hitch a ride on as this winding road to North Texas nears its end.
*There have been other Final Fours featuring all public colleges or universities, but this is the first year since 2002 where four state-named schools have reached the Final Four. The last featured Maryland, Kansas, Oklahoma and Indiana. This is the seventh time since 1979 the Final Four will feature four traditional "state" schools.
Kentucky. Connecticut. Wisconsin. Florida. Whom do you want to win?
Here is a quick primer on what to root for—or against—with each school vying to cut down the Final Four nets.