D65d918581c3418f6afb2dddf0033cfe_crop_north
Thomas J. Russo/USA Today

The Kentucky Wildcats were the top-ranked team in the country before one of the players starting Monday night's national championship game even stepped foot on a college basketball court.

There will be some college basketball voters walking around North Texas with a big "told you so" look on their faces tonight. History has a way of revising itself. The incredible coaching of John Calipari this season has something to do with that.

Kentucky was not the best team in the country all year—far from it—but when it matters the most, it sure seems to be playing like it.

Kentucky's run to the Final Four shouldn't be a "told you so" situation for the writers, but it can be for Calipari.

Hi-res-b72fb69524b0ac963bc92ccaf43506c2_crop_north
Anonymous

College basketball uniforms have come a long way since the nascent days of the NCAA Final Four.

Who could have imagined just how much satin used to be a part of the NCAA tournament? I mean, gosh, even the shorts were satin back when the Final Four began. And speaking of the shorts, well, they certainly were, um, short.

As the final participants take the last ramp off the winding road down to the 2014 Final Four, let's take a look back at all the different styles and fashion statements in Final Four history.

The 1940 Indiana Hoosiers won the national championship in the shortest and shiniest shorts known to man. Just look at how amazing those uniforms were back in the '30s and '40s, featuring a skin-tight tank top that came down well past the hips and the skimpiest shorts one could ever imagine on a basketball court.

31a2cbd25b71bd0b13f9969b197ad93a_crop_north
AP Images

At this point in his career, with another major injury derailing hopes of becoming the winningest golfer in major championship history, it feels like Tiger Woods needs Augusta more than Augusta needs him. 

That wasn't true about any Masters tournament since 1997, when Woods burst onto the major championship scene, but this season—which has seen Woods struggle through the early part of the PGA Tour schedule with a devastatingly ailing back—the Masters doesn't need Woods this year. Not like this.

The Masters doesn't need two rounds of Tiger slogging up and down the bounding fairways of Augusta National, grabbing his back after every wayward shot while using his short irons more as a cane than a means to get out of the second cut.

The Masters doesn't need Tiger showing up just to withdraw after a few holes because the pain in his back was too severe to continue.

40d1f91ff2dad273dbea9f2d6175449f_crop_north
Getty Images

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.

8413e8192d6996f4e3bf6414867d9834_crop_north
Getty Images

If you followed the final days of DeSean Jackson with the Eagles closely enough—and being a sports fan in the Philadelphia area right now, it would have been impossible not to—his release on Friday should have come as no surprise.

The reasons why certainly are.

Jackson was cut loose after weeks of speculation, rumor and unending debate about his on-field contributions and how they would mesh moving forward in the second year of Chip Kelly's tenure. On field. Read that right.

There were hours upon hours of debate about whether Jackson—a 1,300-yard receiver last season—was the best fit for Kelly's system. When Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin were re-signed, the talk was almost all about Jackson.

When Darren Sproles was brought in from the New Orleans Saints, the talk was certainly about Jackson.

22673723c7615349393fd289d81a2d7a_crop_north
USA Today/Getty Images

Have you ever read the story of David and Goliath? Surely you know the tale, but have you ever actually read it?

We talk with such reverence in sports vernacular whenever a David has the opportunity to slay a Goliath; when a team with no business being in a fight not only finds itself facing an enormous physical task in thwarting a giant, but accomplishes the unexpected in a moment set with great stakes for both sides.

We love these truly rare moments in sports when one of the little guys has a chance to take down one of the biggest, especially when everything—to borrow back another sports cliche—is on the line.

Yes, the Dayton Flyers come from the Atlantic 10, which had twice as many NCAA tournament bids as the SEC conference the Florida Gators swept this season. But a team with just two tournament bids in a decade and five tickets to the Big Dance since the start of the 1990s are every bit the little guy as Florida—35-2 and top-ranked in the country for the final month of the regular season—is the giant.

B960bc013177a4bdf23b18da4311e882_crop_north
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Tom Izzo's reputation precedes him. You do not want to face an Izzo-coached team in March. You certainly don't want to face one in the NCAA tournament.

Izzo is one of the best college basketball coaches in America today, and he has built his reputation on what his teams do late in the season. Izzo's troops are prepared, tough and extremely hardworking. They are the modern-day personification of a Spartan; perhaps no other nickname in college basketball is more apt to a team's style of play.

They are, in some ways, a mirror image of their mentor. Even Izzo's voice—that unmistakable rasping tone—says everything you need to know about the man…and his teams.

When it comes to tournament time, Michigan State is there, and it is there to fight. Izzo's teams play the game of basketball like a grizzled unit preparing for conflict.

619d63e7394566834b2c076ca861795b_crop_north
Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Images

What's that joke about having no Cash, Jobs or Hope?

At the start of the 2014 NCAA tournament, college basketball fans had a chance to watch one of the most talented crops of youngsters in recent memory fight through the bracket for a piece of college basketball history.

There was hope for teams like Kansas, Duke and Kentucky to ride their one-and-done superstars to an NCAA championship.

Heading into the Sweet 16, most of that top talent has been kicked out of the Big Dance, which leaves little hope for fans of the college game that any of them will ever set foot on a college basketball court again.

Ad431dea013ecd82994a13922634a8e2_crop_north
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

It’s amazing how four days of basketball can dash so many hopes and dreams around the country. I’m talking about our brackets, of course (did you think I meant the actual players, coaches and schools?), as multiple first-round upsets and a few wonderful sleepers have dismantled most of our plans for bracket brilliance this season.

Me? I still have all four of my Final Four picks alive, which feels like a perfect bracket just the same. (Where’s my billion dollars? Seriously.)

Even though most of our brackets were summarily busted thanks to a few early upsets, that doesn’t mean the Sweet 16 in the 2014 NCAA tournament won't be every bit as exciting as the first two (read: three) rounds of play.

This has been a great tournament so far, and the next two rounds should prove to be just as enjoyable as we continue on that long winding road to North Texas for the Final Four.

01fa118e2bfae40b07c3458673159fc5_crop_north
Zoe & Max are picking brackets
B/R

Max is three years old and he loves basketball.

Max told me a few weeks ago that he wants to grow up to be like his dad and become a sportswriter. If you look at his NCAA tournament bracket, he knows just about as much as the rest of us when it comes to picking winners in the Big Dance.

Seriously, do you think your bracket is better than a three year old? OK, how about a six year old? 

Zoe has been picking brackets since before she was two years old—this is literally her sixth year picking brackets—and she is pretty darn good at this by now. She had Butler in the Final Four the year nobody was picking them. Genius.