Who to Root for in the Final Four

Sports are almost easier to watch when your team isn’t playing.  In fact, I’m quite certain it is less stressful.  Enjoying the game for the game is a liberating experience.  So in a Final Four where I have no dogs in the fight, no distinct ties to any school, and loose affiliations at best, why am I finding myself standing in a particular corner?
The truth is that the Final Four, the barometer of college basketball success, is the perfect stage in which to choose a side on a completely arbitrary basis.  There are four schools left in the dance.  Mine is not one of them.  I want to watch good games, but more than anything I want Kentucky to lose.  I am openly rooting against a Kentucky team I frankly should not care less about.  Why?
Like any good story, there needs to be a hero and a villain.  College hoops – perhaps more than any other sport – seems to write perfect scripts for the viewing public.  Die-hard college sports fans will dissect any program to find the tiniest morsel of controversy and build an entire hate campaign around it.  Look at the posters and pictures that fill these arenas.  They can be quite clever, but mostly scathing.  Find something you dislike and hammer at it like a rusted nail until you develop true malevolent feelings.
John Calipari’s history in college basketball is well-known.  He has vacated two Final Fours and left schools in the midst of violations.  Not to mention he is brash and most think that his recruiting practices are shady to say the least.  He makes it easy to root against him.  He finds great one-and-done players to build a competitive team every season that has a chance to make a run to the Final Four like this group did.  I will give anything to watch Wisconsin take his Wildcats to the woodshed and take him down a peg.  I would never ever deny his ability to coach basketball.  He will end up being one of the best of all time.  He just rubs a lot of people the wrong way.  On Wisconsin.
That is an easy enough choice:  root against whoever is playing Kentucky.  What about the other game?  Florida and Connecticut?  What do I really care about either of these teams?  In reality, nothing.  Florida does not really do anything for me (despite Billy Donovan being a heck of a coach).  Neither does UConn.  But for some reason I decided last weekend that I know longer will ever cheer for UConn.  Maybe it’s because they knocked out Michigan State and ruin my national champion pick.  Maybe it’s because Kevin Ollie – who is very likeable mind you – is in his second year and he is already succeeding more than most coaches do in their lifetimes.  Maybe it’s because Shabazz Napier goes off and dashes any chances of an opposing team coming back to win.  Maybe it’s because they have an extremely successful history and I am just over it.  It could be any number of reasons.  None of them make any sense.  I will be rolling with Florida on Saturday night all the same.
This is the culmination of the college basketball season.  There have been highs and lows.  Great performances and crushing defeats.  It has been a heck of a tournament.  The Final Four should be all about basketball and the grit and determination these teams have as they vie for the title.  But no, this is college basketball.  This is a battle for bragging rights and pride and pageantry and history.  I am choosing sides.  Because that’s what fans do.  It doesn’t have to make sense.  You just have to be passionate.  Isn’t that what they taught us in school?