Final Four: Deja Vu All Over Again?

By - April 02, 2007

The Southeastern Conference champions enter the national title game having won 11 straight NCAA Tournament contests since their last loss in the Big Dance -- a span of just over two calendar years. All the talk Sunday and Monday has surrounded the team's favorable chances to become the first back-to-back national champ since Duke in 1991 and 1992. And all this while the coach is trying to shut out the distractions of rumored interests from outside sources.

If you picked up the newspaper 10 years and two days ago -- on the morning of Mar. 31, 1997 -- you might have read that story. Of course, top-seeded Kentucky would go on to suffer an 84-79 overtime loss at the hands of No. 4-seeded Arizona in a game best remembered for Miles Simon's clutch 14-for-17 performance from the foul line. Five weeks later, Rick Pitino would leave Lexington -- where his name still hangs alongside the jerseys in the Rupp Arena rafters -- for the head coaching post with the Boston Celtics.

It's funny how these storylines have a way of repeating themselves in the sports arena -- as that Kentucky tale sounds an awful lot like what the Gators have gone through over the past day or two. But one thing's for sure: The Florida fans packing the stands as I type hope that the parallels end right here and now.

Posted by at 08:13 PM on April 02, 2007

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