Kentucky is the lone number one seed left in a tournament that has had its share of surprises but who will be dancing when the band stops playing?

Florida falls to Louisville

If you are a Gator backer or if you plunked down a few bucks on them on Saturday afternoon as part of your NCAA basketball picks, you have my sympathy.  It was all Florida throughout until 1:06 left Rick Pitinowhen freshman forward Chane Behanan dropped not only the go ahead bucket but also the jaws of just about everyone in and around Gainesville.  After enjoying an eight point lead at the half, Florida pushed it to eleven as Rick Pitino was slapped with a technical and it looked like smooth sailing for Billy Donovan's crew.  The Gators were unconscious from beyond the arc in the 1st half, hitting 8 of 11 treys but went stone cold in the 2nd half when they shot 0-9.  The Cardinals mounted a furious rally and when the buzzer sounded they celebrated a 72-68 victory as the master once again schooled the pupil and Pitino remained undefeated against his protégé, pocketing his seventh straight victory over Donovan.   

The two have been friends since their days at Providence when Pitino was the upstart head coach of their road to the Final Four back in 1987 and Donovan was his eager point guard.  After his college career was over Donovan played only one year in the NBA.  He then decided to take a real job and turned to Wall Street but soon realized he'd rather be diagramming plays than writing order tickets.  Pitino happily took him under his wing and Donovan eventually got his chance at a head coaching job in 1996 with his current employer.  It's been a blissful marriage ever since with one brief disruption in 2007 when Donovan made the leap to the NBA and accepted the head coaching job with the Orlando Magic.  After much thought and reflection he asked out of Orlando before he ever coached a day and the U of F was more than happy to welcome him back into their lovin' arms. 

Both coaches have a genuine admiration and respect for each other but only one team gets to win.  Once again, Pitino proved he is one of the greatest to ever coach in the college ranks.  I'm sure Billy Donovan will agree.

Buckeyes squeeze the Orange

Jim Boeheim complained loud and long about the officiating on Saturday night but the refs were equal opportunity whistle blowers as Ohio State's sophomore power forward Jared Sullinger sat on the bench for much of the 1st half in foul trouble.  

Syracuse understood their existence in the tournament was tenuous at best without the services of their big man in the middle Fab Melo who apparently takes tests about as well as he breathes underwater.  Any number one seed that gets a scare in the 1st round is pretty much doomed from the onset.  But give Boeheim's boys credit.  They gave Kansas State a good beating before escaping with a one point victory over Wisconsin.  But Syracuse's gas tank was on empty when they took the court Saturday night but still made it a game before Ohio State drew away for a 77-70 victory.

Kentucky bounces the Bears

Kentucky was undoubtedly the best in class before the tournament started and as the only number one seed currently standing, they are living up to that billing.  Head coach John Calipari continues to get the best high school players in America to choose Kentucky blue to spend a year playing John Caliparibasketball before they head for the bright lights and big money of the NBA.  Last season Brandon Knight traded in his Wildcat jersey for a Pistons uniform when Detroit plucked him as the 8th overall pick in the draft.  Two years ago John Wall took his hard-court magic to Washington when the Wizards made him the first overall pick in the draft.  Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis are the latest cream of the crop freshman who may very well turn in their textbooks for bankbooks. 

Cal's crew took an early lead on Baylor and never really looked back.  Despite the dominating performance, Calipari has no tolerance for showboating.  Doron Lamb was given the hook after forsaking an easy layup for a show time pass to a hard charging and trailing Davis.  The lob was mishandled and Baylor turned the miss into a quick rebound and two points at the other end.  Outside of that, it was all Kentucky and they walked off the court with an 82-70 victory and a trip to the Big Easy.

Jayhawks harness Heels

Tyshawn Taylor returned to regular season form as he scored 22 points and led the number two seeded Jayhawks to a date with the similarly seeded Ohio State Buckeyes.  The Tar Heels kept pace in the first half, walking off the court tied at 47 only to be outhustled and outscored in the second half.  North Carolina could not recover from the absence of starting point guard Kendall Marshall as they failed to cover against Ohio before ultimately falling to Kansas 80-67. 

Final Four Showdowns

Let's face it, while the Kansas/Ohio State tilt should be entertaining it lacks the drama and history of the Bluegrass Showdown between Louisville and Kentucky.  Rick Pitino's glory days were spent at the University of Kentucky where he led them to an NCAA tournament championship and three Final Four appearances.  When he decided to accept a position with the Boston Celtics in 1997 the Kentucky faithful were certainly disappointed but understood you can't stop a man from moving on and improving his financial situation. 

However, when Pitino's disastrous tenure in Boston came to a merciful close it wasn't surprising that he chose to return to the state of Kentucky to ply his trade.  Unfortunately, he opted to reside in Louisville and not Lexington which sent University of Kentucky fans into a frenzy.  Whenever Pitino goes back to Rupp Arena the Wildcat fans always wave to him with four fingers broken.  Saturday night in the Big Easy will be ground zero where coach Cal and Slick Rick will throw down while all of Kentucky watches.  If you're smart, you'll be watching too.