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KU basketball fans still have rooting interest in Final Four — 3 of them, actually

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Kansas fans celebrate during filming of the ESPN College GameDay at Allen Fieldhouse, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, hours before the tip-off between KU and ]Kentucky men's basketball game.

Kansas fans celebrate during filming of the ESPN College GameDay at Allen Fieldhouse, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, hours before the tip-off between KU and ]Kentucky men's basketball game. by Mike Yoder

For those KU basketball fans who have not sworn off college hoops and crawled into a cave until October, when another season rolls around, this weekend’s Final Four offers a trio of intriguing rooting options.

With that in mind, I checked in with a dozen of the most die-hard KU fans I know to find out who they’re pulling for to take home the national title now that their beloved Jayhawks are no longer in the running.

The options:

• Roy Williams and North Carolina — Old habits die hard and if KU can’t win it, why not pull for the man who won 418 games in 15 seasons and led Kansas to four Final Fours. Enough time has passed between Ol’ Roy’s departure and today that going this route has become easier for most.

• Buddy Hield and Oklahoma — Big 12 pride runs deep around here these days and it seems safe to say that many KU fans would pull for just about any Big 12 team in the Final Four. Add to that the fact that OU star Buddy Hield has the utmost respect from the KU fan base and is as good of a guy as there ever has been in college basketball and this option becomes even more appealing. Besides, the Big 12 winning it all only further validates KU’s 12th consecutive Big 12 title and postseason tourney triumph.

• Jay Wright and Villanova — Believe it or not, there are some sports fans out there — even within Jayhawk Nation — who make it a rule to root for the team that knocked their team out. This, of course, makes the season-ending loss easier to swallow even if getting over the heartbreak of losing to said team can be a major challenge.

So there are the options because, as you all know, there’s probably not a single KU fan out there who would pull for Jim Boeheim and Syracuse, even if they are a double-digit-seeded underdog and even if it has been 13 years since that tough loss to the Orange in the title game. Let’s see what a few of these fine folks had to say.

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) puts up a shot while guarded by Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) with seconds remaining in the game during the second half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) puts up a shot while guarded by Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) with seconds remaining in the game during the second half, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

“I’m rooting for OU over Nova because I love Buddy and really didn’t enjoy the Nova fans. And I’m rooting for UNC over ‘Cuse because I just like them better overall. If OU and UNC meet in the final, I will pull for Roy because I think it’s time for him to hang it up and go out on top. I still love him and I also don’t want to listen to OU fans throw the national championship in our face.” — 40-year-old female Lawrence resident.

“I am cheering for OU. I like Buddy and (OU coach) Lon (Kruger), plus I think it helps the Big 12 brand a little bit.” — 32-year-old male Shawnee resident.

“I think the best team is North Carolina, but that’s not the team I’m going to root for. I’m going to root for Villanova because I like the way they play better than anyone else and I think their big guys are better than I thought they were.” — 65-year-old male Lawrence resident.

“Oklahoma because I think they always give every game their all and they share the ball a lot. They are great guys and I think they are going to go all the way.” — 11-year-old female New Jersey resident.

“I have some very close connections to North Carolina and, obviously, Roy gave us 15 great years, so I love those guys and I root for them now. So there’s a part of me that wants them to win, but, boy, I like Buddy Hield, too. How do you root against that guy? I don’t think you can. Normally, I would root for UNC, but I probably want Buddy Hield to win a national championship.” — 43-year-old male Lawrence resident.

“I’m not rooting for anyone now. My heart always breaks when the season ends with anyone but Kansas on top. The tournament is over in my mind. It’s also possible I’m a sore loser.” — 31-year-old female Lawrence resident.

“I was hoping Virginia was going to beat Syracuse and then I would’ve been fine with any of the four winning it because I really like all four of those teams and coaches. But I’d like to see Carolina win it. As a KU fan, I think it’d be nice to see the best team left rewarded by winning it all.” — 36-year-old male North Carolina resident.

“Definitely OU. Lon Kruger is nothing but class and has really done an amazing job in Norman. His players reflect his demeanor. They play hard with respect for the game and their opponents. There is no better representative of what college basketball should be than Buddy Hield. If KU isn’t going to have its One Shining Moment then I hope OU does.” — 40-year-old male New Jersey resident.

“My heart says to pull for OU due to conference ties and the class act of the coach and players. And that's probably all that matters. But pocketbook-wise, I’ll finish in second place and win $30 in the the “investment” pool I'm in if Syracuse wins one game or Villanova wins it all.” — 59-year-old female Independence, Mo., resident.

“I’m cheering for Oklahoma because Buddy Hield is the rare non-KU player who you wish was a Jayhawk. And even though they once were at Kansas State, Lon Kruger and Steve Henson are both native Kansans and their success helps make our state look good.” — 38-year-old male Lawrence resident.

“Roy. He's family. Also, watching the Tar Heels makes me nostalgic for his era of Jayhawks. Basically, after we beat the Tar Heels in 2008, it healed all wounds with Roy ever since.” — 36-year-old female Fairway resident.

“I’m actually currently in Norman, Oklahoma, so I will be rooting for OU. However, that is partly because the Nova fans were a bit arrogant in Louisville and that made me want them to lose. If OU does win Saturday, I don’t want them to win it all because I don’t want a Big 12 school to be national champs if it isn’t Kansas.” — 41-year-old male Lawrence resident.

Comments

Patricia Davis 6 years, 2 months ago

I am an OU alum married to a Jayhawk. We married in 1975 with a prenup that we would be OU football and KU basketball. That worked until a certain moment in 1988. It's been a little hard living in Lawrence—as in how many ways can we remember 1988? Since then I have been wanting OU to win a national championship. I love KU, but I bleed Crimson and Cream. Boomer Sooner!

Dale Rogers 6 years, 2 months ago

Since Buddy Hield did not get the nod for National Player of the Year, I'm rooting for OU simply because I want Buddy to show those who vote for NPOY they made a mistake. Plus, under Lon Kruger and with Hield, OU is class.

Dave Miller 6 years, 2 months ago

Anyone but Syracuse and Boeheim... I'd actually rather see OU vs Villanova in the finals, but since that can't be, I'll go with anyone before Syracuse.

Marisa Lahm 6 years, 2 months ago

I want UNC to win because my family in Texas loves UNC. Also, I wouldn't mind if OU wins and will be cheering for them against Nova' because I love Buddy Hield and Nova' fans were poor sports. I don't like seeing poor sports win. OU or UNC ftw please. :)

Dirk Medema 6 years, 2 months ago

Hate the zone, so would be glad to see it leave.

Buddy & Lon are great, plus it would indirectly help KU if another Big12 team could win. Unfortunately, 'nova plays that press D that seems to hurt Buddy, so I'm not optimistic of them reaching the finals. Would prefer UNC over 'nova if it came to that.

Michael Lorraine 6 years, 2 months ago

If we had not lost a winnable game to Nova they would be my hands down favorite but it would be bittersweet to see them cut down the nets when it should have been us.

Used to like UNC until Roygate but I still like Roy so I could live with it.

Cannot root for a team we beat twice and I have a problem with football schools who do well in basketball so OU is out of the question.

Still bitter over the loss to Syracuse so I could not root for them.

Eric Dawson 6 years, 2 months ago

OU. Big 12, plus Hield and Kruger are class acts. If OU loses to Nova, then Nova and Jay Wright. More class.

No one from Cheaters, Inc - the tarred ones or the Orange - for me. I forgave Roy going home a long time ago, but I will never forgive the UNC administration nor The Traitor Smith for their actions during the 2003 NCAAs. Factor in the 18 year academic scandal Sword of Damocles hanging over the tarred ones ("worst academic scandal in history") and I don't see how anyone outside of UNC alums can root for them to win it all, Roy or no. Same for Syracuse, whose record this year was not deserving of a bid, and who got one solely because the committee said they'd been penalized with Boeheim being suspended earlier in the season. Hello?!? He was suspended by the NCAA (and lost 108 wins in his record) because of academic violations, and now that suspension becomes his pass to get in despite the Orange's lousy record?
Hield & Kruger or Nova & Wright. Anything else will be a Travesty.

Kristen Downing 6 years, 2 months ago

I have often wondered and I mean often lately, do the KU players watch the tourney after they are knocked out?

Titus Canby 6 years, 2 months ago

OU for 2 reasons:

1) I always cheer for Big 12 teams, now that there is no despicable school in the conference. 2) We beat OU twice. If they win the tournament, that means we're the best team in the country.

My second pick is Villanova for the same reason Tait mentioned. If I must lose, I prefer to lose to the champion.

Third pick is UNC. I don't care what everyone else says about Roy, but he gave us 15 great years. I like him.

Jim Hoffman 6 years, 2 months ago

the Nova performance tonight certainly makes me feel a little better about KU's season ending performance, though still wish that matchup had been in final 4, not regional final. also feel bad for how Buddy's career ended. But to hold Ellis and Hield to a combined 14 points the last 2 games is amazing. Living near Nova, everyone here was suspect of what Nova would do against top competition after previous tourney losses and losses to OK and Virginia this season, but this tournament performance has been incredible. The height and talent of North Carolina will be very tough for Nova to handle on Monday night, but we'll see. Saw lots of happy kids on the Nova campus tonight. Hopefully thats a scene played out at KU soon in an upcoming season.

Michael Lorraine 6 years, 2 months ago

OU beat Nova earlier this season by 23 and loses today by 44. Unbelievable.

Armen Kurdian 6 years, 2 months ago

How many times has KU lost to the eventual national champion in the last 30 years? I can think of several...Louisville, Duke, Syracuse, Kentucky, Arizona, UNC, Maryland...

UNC has enough titles. Got nothing against 'Nova. I'll root for them tonight.

Mike Greer 6 years, 2 months ago

I watched last nights game more as an analyst than a fan, I wanted to understand better what happened to KU and OU and how well that would play out vs. UNC.

KU definitely had the best chance to win of the three teams 'Nova defeated on the way to the national championship. What KU and OU failed to do was make the outside shots (3 pointers) that they had made all season. OU never had that much of an inside game, but KU over the season could play inside as they did vs. UConn, or from beyond the arc as they did in many games where they shot over 50% of their 3s. UNC is predominately inside shooting team, and when that wasn't working any better for them than it was for KU, they started hitting from beyond the arc to the tune of about 60-70% for much of the game. That's what got them the half time lead and the 10 point lead about midway through the second half. Meanwhile 'Nova was a bit cold from beyond the arc early in the game. When UNC's Berry II cooled off, 15 points in first half, 5 in second, the game started swinging the other way. UNC never got the points in the paint they typically get, just like KU didn't get the production from Ellis or Lucas that they got earlier in the tournament. KU did a much better job defensively, but missed way too many of the, what should have been open, 3s, and still had a chance to win that game.

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