Periodically through the next couple of weeks, I am going to propose alternate Final Fours. Not an original idea by any means, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth copying and discussing. I don’t have the time or the patience to whittle down large 68 “team” tournaments, so we are going to jump right to the exciting stuff. The Final Four. I think, appropriate to the spirit of the blog, that preparations of pork is the perfect place to start our alternate final four journey. I have to say, that pig is one versatile animal. Some Pig is right, Charlotte.
- Pulled Pork
Bacon: Bacon is the number one overall seed and cruised through the Belly Region. Bacon’s strength is that is adapts to anything. Throw any opponent you can think of at Bacon and you’re going to come away thinking Bacon got the better of it. Bacon also can play at any time of day: Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner. The only thing standing in Bacon’s way right now is Bacon. Overconfidence can be an issue with this squad, and frankly, Bacon could be looking ahead to the draft. Historical Comparisons: ’85 Bears, 1990 UNLV Running Rebels.
Ribs: The Rib was the number 3 seed out of the Hock Region. The Rib is all about upside. When the Rib has it going, it can play with anyone. It’s the perfect meld of texture, flavor, sauce and when it all comes together it can take even your most delicious cuts of pork and put them to sleep. The two biggest problems with the Rib are consistency and finishing out the game. Sometimes you’ll encounter the Rib, it’ll be just what you are looking for, but at the end of the game it leaves you wanting a bit more. It didn’t quite hit the spot. If the Rib doesn’t close, it won’t win this tournament. Historical Comparison: 1993 Phillies.
Sausage: Sausage is the blue-collar, feel good story of this bracket. People just love the way Sausage plays. Not many people gave them much of a chance as the #4 seed in the Loin Region, but Sausage emerged. It is Sausage’s surprising versatility that has gotten it this far in the tournament. Equally comfortable in a roll or on a plate of mashed potatoes, Sausage doesn’t have any All-Americans, but it’s battle tested after playing the entire year in the legendary Breakfast Meats Conference. If Cinderella has a representative in this tournament, it’s your old friend Sausage. Will this tournament turn into the ultimate Sausage Fest? We’ll see. Historical Comparison: 1985 Villanova Wildcats.
Pulled Pork: Pulled Pork was the #1 Seed out of the Shoulder Region. Pulled Pork is a little bit of a one-trick pony, but that one trick is better than what most other teams can pull off. Pulled Pork relies on its superstar, the pulled pork sandwich, and everything else is just a complimentary piece. Pulled Pork is the flashy recruiter, it sends plenty of top draft picks on to the next level, but sometimes it is so good you wonder if something illegal isn’t going on with Pulled Pork as well. I’d hate to see the FDA step in and ban Pulled Pork from the tournament for a couple of years and cut their scholarships. No tricks here, Pulled Pork comes right at you, and dares you to beat their best. Historical Comparison: 2003 Syracuse Orangemen.
Bacon over the Rib.
The Rib was just too sloppy in the first half of this one, and by the time they got cleaned up and found their rhythm, Bacon was long gone. The back court of crispy bacon and bacon wrapped filet was just too much for anyone from the Rib to handle. They pressured the ball, hit all their shots, and when the Rib tried to make an adjustment, BLT just killed them on the inside. Good run for the Rib, but as is so often the case at the end of the meal, it just wasn’t enough.
Sausage over Pulled Pork.
The story book run continued. It’s interesting that the day after the Fab Five documentary aired on ESPN we saw this performance from Pulled Pork. I’m not going to say that it “pulled” a Webber, but it was a disappointing performance by a squad that has such tremendous potential. Pulled Pork just couldn’t find the balance between its star and complimentary players, and Sausage was right there getting all the dirty rebounds and easy put-backs. They say defense wins championships and the job that Knockwurst and Keilbasa did on Pulled Pork in the low blocks was unprecedented. They intimidated, used their fouls and in the end it was enough to send Sausage through.
The Final: Bacon is King.
I don’t want to use the word dynasty, because I think it gets thrown around a little too often in today’s sporting world, but Bacon has all the makings of a historic program. Year after year the recruits come, and really the name on the front of the jersey, “Bacon,” says it all. That’s good for a 5 or 10 point jump on most teams strictly on reputation. Bacon is Tiger Woods at the ’97 Masters. People are playing for second place when Bacon steps on the court. I want to commend Sausage on a great run. They captured the hearts of America. But, this isn’t a Disney movie. This is the Pork Final Four, and sometimes the juggernaut comes home with the title.