Users Guide to The Final Four

Alan RubensteinAnalyst IIIApril 3, 2009

The Super Bowl might be America's most viewed and popular sporting event.  The Final Four is probably is most intriguing. 

In the middle of March, alumni and fans of 65 schools each have a dream of just once seeing their school advance to college basketball holy grail.  From there they all want to see their school during one shining moment.

For the Super Bowl many Americans gather together to watch the big game, indulge in chips, imbibe, and put money on squares for their hope of cashing in their little corner of Super Bowl glory. 

The Final Four is a bit more innocent.  Are you getting together with family, friends, or heading to your nearest watering hole to catch the semifinals on Saturday and the finals on Monday? 

Is your bracket completely shot?  Here is a chance to start anew and impress your family, friends, and co-workers with your knowledge of Final Four history and beyond.

This year's Final Four teams—Villanova, UConn, North Carolina and Michigan State—combine for 11 appearances in this decade alone.  If you push it back one more season to 1999, the amount goes up to 13.

The Spartans and the Tar Heels—with four appearances each—are the most for any school this decade.  If anyone but Villanova wins the national championship, that school will match Florida for the most titles since 2000.

Derrick Rose last season and Greg Oden in 2007, became the first pair of No. 1 overall NBA Draft picks to play in a Final Four in back-to-back seasons since Elvin Hayes from Houston in 1968, Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabaar) from UCLA in 1969, and Bob Lanier at St. Bonaventure in 1970.

Entering the Final Four, Michigan State is 9-0 all time as a two seed.  They won the national championship in 1979 and are 4-0 this season. 

Connecticut has gone 4-0 in their two trips to the Final Four.  UConn finished the 1999 and 2004 seasons with national championships.  They also went through the West Regional in Phoenix in each of those two years. That bodes well for this season after they again came through the West in Phoenix.

Villanova won its only national championship in 1985 defeating fellow Big East member Georgetown for the national title. In that season, St. John's—as well as 'Nova and G'Town—was also a Final Four participant. Louisville's loss to Michigan State prevented the Big East from pulling that off for a second time. 

The Wildcats 15 wins as a higher seed are the most in tournament history.  For Jay Wright to bring Villanova their second national championship that number will have to reach 17. 

If UConn wins the national championship, Jim Calhoun will become only the second active coach to win three national championships.  Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is the other. Adolph Rupp, John Wooden, and Bob Knight are the only other coaches to ever accomplish that.

The record for wins in a season with 37 is held by Duke in 1986, UNLV in 1987, Illinois in 2005, and Memphis in 2008.  None of those teams went on to win a national championship.  UNLV lost to Indiana in the national semifinals, while the others all finished the season as the national runner-up.

A title by North Carolina would be the school's fifth all time.  That would move them into a third place tie with Indiana for the most all-time.  If either UConn or Michigan State win that would be that school's third national championship.  Duke and Kansas currently have three and are tied for fifth all-time.

North Carolina has now advanced to 18 Final Fours.  That is the most ever.  A win over Villanova would give them their ninth national title game appearance.  That would tie Duke for the third most ever.   

This will be Jim Nantz's 19th consecutive year broadcasting the Final Four.  That is the most by a play-by-play man.  This will also be the first year without Billy Packer since 1976.  Packer had announced 32 consecutive Final Fours.  Clark Kellogg has replaced him as the new lead analyst. Kellogg likes to use many colloquialisms.  A stat sheet stuffer (does many things very well) and spurtability (a team's ability to score in bunches) are two of his favorites. 

This will be the first time that Detroit has hosted a Final Four.  They have previously hosted two Super Bowls.  Kansas City has hosted 10 Final Fours, the most ever. 

The national championship game has gone into overtime seven times, including last season.  The only multiple overtime game was played in 1957.  North Carolina capped off an undefeated season by winning 54-53 in triple overtime.  Dean Smith was part of Kansas' national runner-up team. 

There have been two triple-doubles in Final Four history.  Oscar Robertson in the place game against Louisville in 1959 and Magic Johnson against Penn in the national semifinal in 1979. 

The Final Four has become one of the great American sporting events every year.  Its arguably now the second most important and popular behind the Super Bowl.  Armed with these facts, you should now be a more knowledgeable viewer.