So, it’s set. The Final Four in New Orleans on Saturday and the championship game Monday night at the Caesars Superdome will decide this year’s NCAA men’s champion.
Here’s a look of how the Final Four teams got to New Orleans, plus some other highlights of the NCAA Tournament so far:
NORTH CAROLINA (8 seed)
Defeated Marquette (9), 95-63
Defeated Baylor (1), 93-86 (OT)
Defeated UCLA (4), 73-66
Defeated Saint Peter’s (15), 69-49
DUKE (2 seed)
Defeated Cal State Fullerton (15), 78-61
Defeated Michigan State (7), 85-76
Defeated Texas Tech (3), 78-73
Defeated Arkansas (4), 78-69
VILLANOVA (2 seed)
Defeated Delaware (15), 80-60
Defeated Ohio State (7), 71-61
Defeated Michigan (11), 63-55
Defeated Houston (5), 50-44
KANSAS (1 seed)
Defeated Texas Southern (16), 83-56
Defeated Creighton (9), 79-72
Defeated Providence (4), 66-61
Defeated Miami (10), 76-50
— The ACC sent only five teams to the tournament, but has posted a 13-3 overall record and boasts half the teams in the Final Four, along with one each from the Big 12 (Kansas) and Big East (Villanova).
— Kansas is the only No. 1 seed in the Final Four, and the only one that even made it to the Elite Eight, with Arizona (Houston) and Gonzaga (Arkansas) bowing out in the Sweet Sixteen and Baylor (North Carolina) falling in the round of 32.
— Combined NCAA championships of the Final Four teams: 17 (North Carolina 6, Duke 5, Kansas 3, Villanova 3)
— Number of teams in NCAA Division I basketball: 358
— Top individual scoring performance: Teddy Allen (New Mexico State) 37 points vs. Connecticut.
— Best opening round games: Murray State 92, San Francisco 87 (OT) — The teams combined to make 10 straight shots in overtime before the 7th-seeded Racers pulled away; Saint Peters 85, Kentucky 79 (OT) — The 2nd-seeded Wildcats led by six with three minutes to play, but Doug Edert helped the 15th-seeded Peacocks force overtime and kick-start their magical tournament run.
— Number of buzzer beaters in first two rounds: 0
— Number of overtime games in First Four and first two rounds: 6 (including Notre Dame over Rutgers in double OT)
— Highest seeds to win: Other than Saint Peters, which toppled Kentucky, Murray State and Purdue to make history as a 15 seed advancing to the Elite Eight, two 12 seeds, Richmond (Iowa) and New Mexico State (UConn), pulled off first-round upsets.
— Biggest blown leads: North Carolina survived after blowing a 25-point second-half lead against top-seeded Baylor; San Diego State led Creighton by 14 points in the first half and by nine with just under four minutes left in the game, but the Aztecs went cold from the floor and the free throw line and eventually lost to the Bluejays in overtime.
— Worst shooting performance: In an Elite Eight matchup, Houston shot 29.8% in its 50-44 loss to Villanova, which shot 28.8%. The Cougars were 1-20 from the three-point range. The Wildcats were 15-15 from the free throw line, which won them the game, not surprising since they led the nation in FT shooting this season at 83%.
— Biggest disappointment: Iowa Hawkeyes. Getting to the Sweet Sixteen has been a major task for the Big Ten tournament champion, which last advanced past the second round in 1999.
— Battle of the basketball budgets: Saint Peters ($1.5 million) vs. ($19 million). Not as big as 16 seed UMBC taking down 1 seed Virginia four years ago — or is it?
— Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski is looking for his sixth national title before retiring, and he confronts a matchup with ACC rival North Carolina in Saturday’s second semifinal. The Tar Heels ruined his last game at Cameron Indoor Stadium last month. If Coach K is successful, he will join UCLA’s John Wooden and Marquette’s Al McGuire as coaches to win a championship in their last game.
Saturday’s Final Four:
Villanova vs. Kansas (- 4½), 3:09 p.m.
North Carolina vs. Duke (-4), 5:49 p.m.
The winners meet Monday night.
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