I have a rule when it comes to bracket picking that I apply haphazardly because it's pure alchemy. That rule is to pick games based on what sets up the storylines that the sports media will be the most obnoxious about. Going off of that is literally how I decided in 2007 to go with Florida versus Ohio State in the national title game three months after they played for the national title in football. That worked, so I've remembered it ever since.
I am kicking myself for not having applied it more widely this year. It failed when it came to pitting Johns Calhoun and Calipari in the second round, but it came through brilliantly with Roy Williams versus Kansas in the Midwest final, Billy Donovan versus Rick Pitino on the West final, and now with Kentucky and Calipari versus Louisville and Pitino in the Final Four. The writing about that last one has been better than I expected, but it's still heavy-handed and ubiquitous.
Because this rule has been so triumphant this year, it is with great pleasure that I can tell you that Kentucky and Kansas will win their national semifinal games tomorrow in order to set up a rematch between KU and Calipari. It can go no other way.
True, a Louisville victory would unleash a torrent of poor coverage. You'd hear the terms "scrappy" and "underdog" more times than you can count, hear about how Calipari can't win the big one, and get another round of comparisons of Calipari and Pitino. However, we'd all be fairly numb to it all after an entire week of hearing how the world revolves on a Calipari/Pitino axis. It would certainly be annoying, but we've built up some antibodies.
And if Ohio State beats the Jayhawks? Boooooring. We'd get some stories about how Thad Matta has finally broken through without one-and-dones like Greg Oden and Mike Conley, and how, despite the loss, Bill Self can hold his head high for proving 2008 wasn't a fluke and that he doesn't always lose to low seeds. However, both of those storylines have already been applied to those two by virtue of them making the Final Four. Yawn.
If we get Calipari versus Kansas though, watch out. You'd see the big Mario Chalmers shot on nonstop loop from Sunday morning to Monday night. We'd hear very serious discussions about where Self stands in the coaching pantheon, with "analysts" attempting to balance the prospect of two national titles with tournament losses to the likes of Bradley, Bucknell, and Northern Iowa. The Calipari-hasn't-won-the-big-one drone will be there, but the sight of Derrick Rose missing a foul shot before Chalmers' answered prayer would no doubt ignite stories about how two of Calipari's previous Final Four trips have been vacated.
If that's not insufferable enough, prepare for sweeping and incomplete histories of the two programs with hamfisted comparisons made between disparate aspects of them simply because they've both been very good for a very long time. Someone will likely contend that Kansas uses "KU" to differentiate itself from Kentucky's "UK", even though the use of "KU" at Kansas dates back to the late 1800s before Kansas basketball began (in 1898). The inevitable article with amusing anecdotes from when Adolph Rupp played for Phog Allen at Kansas will probably be the most interesting thing you'll see, and that has zero to do with the actual game.
The more I think about it, the more I realize we can't get anything other than a Kentucky versus Kansas final. Brace yourself for it, and also maybe keep your attention turned elsewhere for a couple of days.