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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Elite Eight Takeaways: After 44 Years Purdue gets it done, UCONN rolls, NC State is Cinderella, and Bama is a Basketball school

Elite Eight Takeaways: After 44 Years Purdue gets it done, UCONN rolls, NC State is Cinderella, and Bama is a Basketball school

Publish Date: 04/01/2024
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

This is a strange Final Four. You have a repeat champion, a team that’s never been in a Final Four, and two teams that have not seen a Final Four in over 40 years. N.C.State will play the part of Cinderella, while UCONN plays the part of a possible all-time great team. Purdue would be the feel-good story with a loyal fan base that was feeling snake-bitten. This Final Four feels like a clash of Titans in the Final Four featuring UCONN vs Purdue, but if you follow March Madness you know that things like that can be blown up quickly!

1) Finally, Purdue gets it done after 44 years

Glen Robinson couldn’t get it done, Robbie Hummel got hurt when it looked like it might happen, and then five years ago, a double-overtime loss to Virginia ended Purdue’s hopes and dreams. Last night all of Boilermaker nation could be heard letting out a collective sigh of relief, the Boilermakers had finally done it, After years of hearing Indiana fans ask them about banners and final four appearances that will all quiet down at least for this week.

Purdue may not have a banner yet, but they do have something Indiana Hoosier fans haven’t seen in twenty-two years: a Final Four appearance! As an Indiana fan myself, I found myself cheering for Purdue. I figure if they do win it, we are still up five to one, and I hate Kentucky, not Purdue, so, all in all, it is good for the state of Indiana, and it’s fantastic for Matt Painter, who is a good coach and more importantly a better man.

The coolest part of this game was when Purdue star Zach Edey split his take of the net with Purdue’s legendary former head coach Gene Keady.

2) NC State’s run is eerily similar to the 1983 Wolfpack

You guys know the story. In 1983, Jim Valvano won the ACC championship to get his Wolfpack team into the NCAA Tournament, and from there, the rest is history as the Wolfpack pulled upset after upset, culminating against Phi Slamma Jamma, a team that at the time seemed invincible. It couldn’t happen again, could it? Now, the Pack enters the Final Four as an almost double-digit underdog against Zach Edey and Purdue. If they win that game, they will face what looks like an unbeatable foe in the UCONN Huskies. Would a UCONN-NC State Championship game seem familiar? Could a miracle happen again 41 years later?

DJ Burns and the Wolfpack are the Cinderella of this tournament. Burns looks to be having the time of his life, as the BIG man has moves that could make him John Travolta in the remake of Saturday Night Live. Purdue cannot afford to overlook a very dangerous Wolfpack team playing with as much joy as you will see any team play with. They are playing with house money and are dangerous for anybody to play.

3) The UCONN coronation?

In the past fifty years, we have seen this a lot. A team looks invincible, and then something happens. Think 1983 Houston, 1985 Georgetown, 1988 Oklahoma, 1991 UNLV. Many teams look unbeatable, but it only takes one bad night to wreck a coronation and crown a Cinderella. I’m not going to lie, though; this UCONN basketball team is as dominant a team as I have seen in the last thirty-five years. They have everything as a team: a great guard plays a great big man, and they hit the boards hard.

They were beaten a few times in the regular season but they are clocking now. They lost three integral parts from last year’s National Championship team, and they actually look better right now than they did last year. They have the best team in the country, and the best coach, and the 30-0 run they put on an outstanding Illinois team was downright scary. Can they be beaten? I guess we are about to find out, but I would not bet against them.

4) Alabama’s not just a Football school anymore

Head Coach Nate Oats has done a remarkable job at Alabama and has his team peeking at the right time. Against Clemson, they fell behind by double-digits, but as they have done as of late, they imposed their will and refused to lose. Can they beat UCONN? Yes, they can. I will not bet on them but this is a team whose defensive play has stepped up the last two weeks and they are capable of scoring a lot of points quickly. The key for Bama is to jump on UCONN and get a quick lead and then battle for the rest of the game and stay hot from three-point range.

The odds are long against Bama, but for the first time since beginning a basketball program in 1912, the Crimson Tide have a chance.

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