The Final Four is one of the greatest weekends of the year. It doesn’t matter if you’re a college basketball fan, or even a sports fan, we’re all going to sit down this weekend and watch some college basketball.
For the other 51 weekends a year, we all get together and watch TV, and in recent years thanks to Netflix and other streaming services TV shows have gotten more popular than ever before.
So, for the second year in a row, I’ll explain the Final Four to all the people out there who don’t follow the sport using America’s language, television. You can check out last year’s comparisons here.
Villanova – Better Call Saul
It’s too bad that there isn’t a popular TV show that includes George Clooney (Jay Wright), Aaron Craft (Ryan Arcidiacono), and Greg Oden (Daniel Ochefu). What a glorious show that would be, and a perfect comparison to the red-hot Villanova Wildcats.
Alas, television executives aren’t as smart as I am, so they haven’t come up with this show yet. Possible title: Salt & Pepper – A tongue-in-cheek medical drama featuring a narcissistic but well-dressed senior surgeon (Clooney) holding back a hardworking, grit & grind medical student (Craft) as they face the biggest surgery experiment of their careers (Oden).
Of the available real television programs, the best comparison is Better Call Saul.
The show, no matter how good it is, exists under the shadow of Breaking Bad. This team, no matter how good it is, exists under the shadow of years of upsets and heartbreak and Jay Wright’s shampoo commercials.
Saul Goodman aka Jimmy McGill is Coach Wright, a guy who has established his credibility thanks to putting on a nice suit. Mike is Ryan Arcidiacono, a hardworking foot soldier and *insert commonly used phrase about white basketball players working and playing hard*.
Even though we haven’t seen him yet, Huel is a pretty good Ochefu comparison. HUEL! Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart have been playing like those two Mexican cartel hit men, called in to destroy anyone who’s in opposition. That leaves Jalen Brunson, who’s a Kim Wexler-type who will work all of the long hours and do all of the dirty work and is fine with not receiving any credit.
In the end, both Villanova and Better Call Saul are a lot better than they get credit for.
Oklahoma = Peaky Blinders
The BBC drama came out of nowhere through Netflix to find popularity and fame with American audiences, just like America’s sweetheart Buddy Hield and the Sooners.
The bomber from the Bahamas has averaged nearly 30 points per game in the tournament, but a lot of experts are wondering if he can keep it up in the Final Four. Similarly, I’m skeptical that Peaky Blinders can keep up its level of excellence as we wait for its third season to release.
Oh, and the Bahamas used to be a British colony, so…it’s meant to be.
Thomas Shelby makes the best case for a Buddy Hield comparison, because the entire show revolves around him. And let’s not forget the rapid improvement and emergence of Cilian Murphy, similar to Hield. In 2003 Murphy was doing movies like “Girl With a Pearl Earring” (heard of it? me neither). But Murphy then raised his game to feature in the Batman movies (the good ones), Inception, and now Peaky Blinders.
Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy’s character) is definitely Jordan Woodard. They’re both guys that play a supporting role but it’s obvious they want to be the star. Isaiah Cousins would be Arthur Shelby, the sidekick that wants to be a big shot really badly but just doesn’t have what it takes. And of course Lon Kruger would be Aunt Polly, the cool headed sage who keeps the whole thing strung together.
I would be remiss not to mention that senior Ryan “the big white guy with a tattoo” Spangler reminds me of Curly. They’re both big, white, enforcers that do what they’re told but are scared to overstep their roles. Finally to round it out, Christian James is John Shelby, the young buck who has no problem with overstepping and does so frequently.
Syracuse = That 70’s Show
A bunch of crazy, young kids and a grumpy old man. They get themselves into sticky situations, and a lot of places they don’t belong (ehhemm), but in the end they somehow emerge unscathed. Am I talking about the Syracuse basketball team or the cast of That 70’s Show? Who’s to say.
Jim Boeheim as Red Forman is just about the most perfect comparison I could ever think of. Even though the Syracuse coach didn’t fight in Vietnam, he might as well have considering his “everything’s gone to hell” attitude. They’re both cranky, impatient, and have that look of utter disdain that makes you feel completely worthless.
Michael Gbenije may be American, but he did transfer from Duke so that fits with FEZ (foreign exchange student). Tyler Lydon is the wide-eyed freshman that’s trying really hard not to screw up (Eric Foreman), and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Trevor Cooney lives in a basement and smokes pot all day (Hyde). That leaves Malachi Richardson as the one member of the show who could go on to a semi-successful professional career (Ashton Kuchar).
And in the end, history is going to remember both as fun and entertaining, but not very important or impactful in the grand scheme of things.
Syracuse, the team that shouldn’t have made it to the tournament and yet made the Final Four. And That 70’s Show, a program that will never make it’s way into any “greatest show or comedy” conversations but is beloved by its fans.
(I still ride for you Mila Kunis)
North Carolina = The People vs OJ Simpson
The best show on television right now meets the best show on the hardwood. Both are filled with diverse and colorful characters, tons of drama, and a foregone conclusion.
The OJ comparison is pretty easy to snuff out, if you think about which kid is the one that people from the outside would think of as the main character. The one that grew to be larger than life, only to come crashing down to earth. The one that’s trying desperately yet unsuccessfully to remain the most powerful man in the room. I’m talking about Marcus Paige.
For those familiar with the show or the actual events that inspired it, you know that Johnny Cochran swooped in late and stole the show. Similarly Brice Johnson rose from James Michael Macadoo-Lite to MVP of the team and ACC Player of the Year-snub this year.
Roy Williams is Bob Shapiro, because duh, old white guy who’s as concerned with his social standing as winning? I think Roy would be fine for being remembered as Dean Smith’s successor and protector of the white tablecloth empire in Chapel Hill.
Let’s fill in the blanks:
Kenny Britt as Chris Darden because they try really really hard but don’t quite have the magic.
Justin Jackson as Judge Ito since both are supposed to be the level headed peacekeeper but are secretly looking out for their personal ambitions.
Kennedy Meeks as Gil Garcetti since both were in the wrong place at the wrong time. 2016 was the wrong year to be a post-up center, and 1992 was the wrong year to be the District Attorney of Los Angeles.
And finally Isaiah Hicks is Robert Kardashian, the dude who can’t find his way off of the bench despite his potential, but gets the last laugh in the “which one of us ends up the most famous” argument. Oh, and Hick has the JUICE and Schwimmer can’t quit saying juice: