MINNEAPOLIS — Two of the three Final Four games have come and gone with Virginia and Texas Tech advancing to Monday night’s championship game. After taking in the semifinals on Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium, both Judd Zulgad and Danny Cunningham have their thoughts on the night that was, the impending title game on Monday, and what to do with the fancy curtains.
Danny: As we sit here on Saturday night, we’re exactly one week removed from having dreams of Duke squaring off with Kentucky in Monday night’s championship game. With all the respect necessary to Virginia and Texas Tech, it’s looking as if Monday night is going to be a dud where the first team to score 40 points wins. The only people more upset than me are the ones at CBS who will be getting the ratings on Tuesday morning.
Judd: Danny, Danny, Danny, you hate college basketball more than I ever could. Is the sport flawed? Absolutely. But it also remains an exciting game, if you accept those flaws. Unfortunately, you are right about Monday. It’s not that I think it’s going to be a bad game — hell, it might be a classic — it’s just that I keep thinking what might have been? I badly wanted to see Zion Williamson play in this building and I didn’t get that. OK, how about we get Kentucky? Nope. North Carolina? Nope. It’s difficult for me to be enthused about Texas Tech and Virginia, although I will say there is little question that on Monday, just like on Saturday, the most popular NFL quarterback in U.S. Bank Stadium will be Patrick Mahomes. That might have been an issue Saturday, considering Michigan State alum Kirk Cousins also was in attendance and he happens to be the QB of the team that calls U.S. Bank Stadium home.
Danny: Yeah, Kirk Cousins didn’t receive the loudest ovation of the night, and it wasn’t close either. Is that foreshadowing for upcoming Sundays this fall? Anyway, back to basketball. Sure, the first game Saturday night was entertaining, but I think my argument is that college basketball is at its absolute best when something goes terribly, terribly wrong, and that’s exactly what happened for Auburn. I could definitely get behind something like that happening again. I think you did put it best that those types of games are really enjoyable when the outcome has no effect on how you go about your business. That was definitely the best part of the night on Saturday. Well, that and Mahomes’ biceps flex on the camera, letting everyone know who the best QB in the building was.
Judd: So, since you’re the basketball expert between us, what would need to happen Monday night for you to come away and say, “That was a good game”? I’m guessing that would surprise you, if that was the case. I think we both agree that what we wanted were superstars and big-name schools. Also, to be clear, it’s not as if I’m saying, “Damn, Michigan State lost!” The Spartans did not raise the water level a lot either.
Danny: I just want to see some offense. Texas Tech is one of the best defensive teams in the country — or so I’ve been told — and Virginia is supposedly up there, too. Watching games that turn out to be “first one to 50 wins!” don’t move the needle for me one bit. I don’t think Texas Tech or Virginia should be characterized as offensively challenged, but it’s a very real possibility that we see the trophy raised by one of those two squads on Monday night after they only scored 45 points. If we’re going to sacrifice a night of NBA action league-wide Monday, can’t we at least score a little bit? What’s your “best-case scenario” for Monday’s game?
Judd: Yes, I’d like to see offense as well but I’m not holding my breath. I just want a close game that comes down to the wire and if something goofy happens all the better. As you said before, I don’t care who wins so bring on the craziness. Although, I have to admit I’m tired of officials screwing up calls they should get right. I will say as someone who saw plenty of NCAA tournament games in the Metrodome that the setup in U.S. Bank Stadium is much better. It’s interesting the NCAA now has a raised floor at what essentially appears to be midfield. Here’s one thing I can tell you. The Super Bowl isn’t coming back until the Vikings build their next new stadium. I’d guess the NCAA men’s Final Four will be back in this building in the next eight to 10 years. At least I hope that’s the case, after we spent all that money on these high-class curtains.
Danny: Watching officials get calls right would be cool. I am excited that we’ll get to see Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter and Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver again on Monday. Neither of them really blew me away in the semifinals, but both of them are slated to go in the top 10 of the NBA draft this June. It’s still strange to me watching a basketball game in a football stadium. The court being at the 50-yard line in the right call, but I don’t like that it’s raised. I’d much rather have it be at a normal level. Stepping on the court felt like you were on a podium the entire time. Other than that, I thought U.S. Bank Stadium did a great job as a host on Saturday night. As for those curtains, what do you think they’re going to do with them in the meantime? I do think that the Final Four will be back, but that won’t happen until at least 2027. At least Target Center will have a regional in 2021!
Judd: At the rate many of our professional sports teams (and some of our college teams) are playing, maybe they can be used to cover up empty seats in the upper decks at various stadiums in Minnesota in years to come.