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Monday, March 26, 2012

Final Four - Rematches of sport's blue bloods

Two games. Two rematches. All four teams amongst the elite of college basketball. 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.

The stakes are higher this time. The winners of Saturday's semifinals will play for the national title next Monday. Absent from this year's final hoops weekend, taking place at the Superdome in New Orleans, are the longshots and little guys who have made March Madness so special over the years. Although there are no Butlers, VCUs or George Masons, there are plenty of good stories to tell. That list starts with Pitino vs. his old school. In the other semifinal, Sullinger got what he wanted when he decided to return to Ohio State for his sophomore year — a trip to the Final Four. The Buckeyes are early 2.5-point picks over Kansas in the matchup of No. 2 seeds.