KU and UK join Final 4 partyPublished 11:18am Monday, March 26, 2012
Two games. Two rematches.
One Final Four repeat is between Kentucky and Louisville, teams that know each other all too well. The other has Kansas facing Ohio State, teams that had more or less been strangers until this season.
Earlier in the season, Kentucky beat Louisville 69-62, handing a loss to Rick Pitino, the coach who once led the Wildcats, but left for the NBA, only to return down the road to lead their in-state rivals. Kansas defeated Ohio State 78-67 in a game the Buckeyes played without their star, forward Jared Sullinger.
“You know if you get this far you’re going to play a great team, no matter what,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
It was Pitino who restored Kentucky to its former greatness when he arrived there in 1989 and the Wildcat program was coming off the sting of NCAA violations.
Pitino took the program to three Final Fours and won one championship, but left in 1997 to take a second shot at the NBA.
He fared far worse in four seasons with the Boston Celtics, and when the call back to the college game came, it was from Louisville, located only 70 miles up the road from Lexington and very much in the crosshairs of Kentucky fans.