The End of the Road

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EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey: Redemption of sorts will come to either Jim Boeheim or Rick Pitino in tonight's NCAA Mens championship basketball game. In an ironic twist, the game pits Syracuse coach Boeheim against the man who he hired as his first assistant coach two decades ago -- Kentucky's Pitino. For Boeheim, the game will be a chance to refute critics who say he is an underachieving coach who despite a wealth of talent has never won anything important. The Syracuse coach last went to the championship game in 1987 with a hugely talented team lead by future NBA star Derrick Coleman, only to lose to Indiana on a last second shot by Keith Smart. On the other side is another man who has never won a national championship, but earned a reputation as an excellent coach after taking a lightly regarded Providence team to the Final Four. Yet Pitino too has his detractors, who say his reputation is does not measure up to the reality. As a double-digit favorite to win this year's event, Pitino has perhaps more to lose than Boeheim, who surprised many just by getting this far with a team that finished fourth in its conference.