The Familiar Four
April 2, 2015
It took 11 days to get the field of 68 down to the Final Four. And we have four familiar teams remaining. We should be getting used to seeing these four teams playing basketball in April. Yes, we are down to Kentucky, Wisconsin, Duke, and Michigan State.
How familiar are these schools to us you ask? All four of this year’s surviving teams have already made Final Four appearances in the first half of this decade, and two have won a national championship in that time. Three of the four were No. 1 seeds and favored to make it this far.
The headliner this year is Kentucky. The unbeaten Wildcats are heading to their fourth Final Four in five years. Wisconsin returns as well, after a national semifinal appearance last year. Duke is back for the first time since its 2010 title. But with 12 Final Four berths in the Mike Krzyzewski era, the Blue Devils are far from strangers to the Final Four. Michigan State, the only non-No. 1 seed to make it this year, cannot be considered a party crasher, either, not with its history of tournament overachievement. Its last visit to the Final Four was in 2010, as a fifth seed. Last year it made the round of eight as a fourth seed.
Kentucky, a very young team, will face Wisconsin, which will put a veteran-laden team on the floor. Frank Kaminsky, a senior, was predictably strong in his team’s Elite Eight victory over Arizona. The seven-footer will have to come up big again as will junior Sam Dekker, who shot 8 for 11 and scored 27 points.
Many expect the Kentucky/Wisconsin semifinal to give us the eventual national champion, I would not rule out Duke. The Blue Devils looked very impressive while destroying Gonzaga on Sunday. Led by likely NBA No. 1 draft pick, Jahlil Okafor, Duke is also getting excellent production from another freshman, Justise Winslow. Throw in senior point guard Quinn Cook, who is a stabilizing force, and you have a team that should beat Michigan State and give Kentucky or Wisconsin a good game. The Blue Devils have won 19 of their last 21, losing only to Notre Dame twice. And we saw how tough the Irish played Kentucky in last weekend’s classic.
Even with all the perennial powers still contending for this year’s crown, I have to stick with Kentucky. Now 38-0, the Wildcats are looking to be the first program to go undefeated since Indiana’s 1976 team.
Nightmarish Weekend For Alabama Football
One would not expect to find Alabama football all over the news during a March weekend. Yet, as offseason weekends go, it’s hard to imagine one worse than the one just endured by Alabama. Weekends like this used to belong to the likes of Urban Meyer back in his Florida days or the University of Miami back in the day. Now it is Nick Saban’s reputation that is taking a hit.
Starting safety Geno Smith was arrested and charged with DUI, his second DUI offense in three years. Defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor, already dismissed from Georgia following a domestic violence charge, was arrested on another domestic violence charge. Saban, who gave Taylor a second chance, dismissed him from the team over the weekend. Then, while Saban was spending more time dealing with police blotters, came news that highly thought of wide receiver Cam Sims tore a ACL in Saturday’s practice.
What a weekend!
Taylor’s dismissal hurt the program the most. Saban and AD Bill Battle are taking heavy critisim for bringing Taylor into the program. Saban and Battle now have some uncomfortable questions to answer. They also have to find answers for Smith. What should Saban and company do with a player who will likely have two DUI convictions? You would think a suspension of some length seems all but certain and dismissal can’t be ruled out.
The Sims injury will hurt the Crimson Tide as they are replacing their top three receivers from a year ago and the depth chart is wide open. Alabama is always loaded but the program took a hit this past weekend. As did their reputation.
NOTE - Just before I sent this column to the FOCUS Headquarters Tuesday evening, word came out of Alabama of another criminal charge against a Crimson Tide football player. Running back Tyren Jones was dismissed from the team after being arrested on a marijuana charge, the third arrest of a Crimson Tide football player in four days.
Saban has to cringe these days when his phone rings.
Wilkesboro Dragway Celebrates 60 Years Of Fun In 2015
Wilkesboro, NC - For decades Wilkes County, NC, has been known for speed, horsepower and racing and when NASCAR left Wilkes County many thought racing had left the area. They could not have been more wrong because the love for drag racing keeps racing in Wilkes County alive. From the early days of moonshining, the people of Wilkes County love speed and have modified their cars to go faster. Over the years this love gave new birth to meaningful speed racing.
Wilkesboro Dragway has been going strong for decades and 2015 is no exception but does mark another milestone for organized racing. This year, Wilkesboro Dragway will celebrate 60 years of operation and new owners Phil and Pat Halbedel have taken the reins of NC's oldest drag strip with the commitment to keep traditions going while intergrating some of their own traditions.
"People just don't have that many choices to go out as a family anymore" said Habidale. We want to change that. Spending time together as a family is important and we want to offer them a safe and affordable option for that," he continues.
Photo & story by Kevin Thorne
This is why Phil and Pat Halbedel are commited to keeping the traditions of affordable family and friendly fun in Wilkes County and why it is important to keep Wilkesboro Dragway in the forefront of what it has been known for—family and fun.
Wilkesboro Dragway is streamlining its schedule so families and fans can plan outtings at the center of speed in Wilkes County by keeping the fans’ schedules in mind. The gate will now open at 12 noon with racing starting at 4pm.
From April thru October, along with the "Stars and Cars" of the Wilkesboro Dragway Points Series racers, the fans’ favorite touring series, the "Classic Gear Jammers" will be racing the first Saturday of every month. The speedsters of the "4.90 Outlaws" and the "CHRA True Street 75's" will be strutting their stuff throughout the season.
Wilkesboro Dragway, 774 Dragway Road, Wilkesboro, NC 28608. Phone: (336)973-7223