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Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Final Four(s) (Updated)

Interrupting law for some sports, specifically the basketball Final Fours (Finals Four?) and a bunch of interesting story lines:

• First time that two schools have men's and women's teams in the Final Four--UConn and NC State.

• Two teams vying for historic standing--undefeated South Carolina women and UConn men vying for consecutive championships and taking a wrecking ball to their opponents (how did they lose 3 games during the season?).

• A major-conference Cinderella in NC State--would have missed the NCAA, went on an unbelievable run to win the Conference tourney and get the automatic bid, and continued a hot streak. It rhymes with (if it does not repeat) the school's run to the 1983 championship. The only thing missing was playing Houston, which they would have done in the Elite Eight had Houston's best player not been hurt.

• Alabama men make the Final Four for the first time in program history. And they do it the year after one of the program's historically best regular seasons led by one its historically best players, who left for the NBA after one season.

• Paige Bueckers (UConn) and Caitlyn Clark (Iowa) entered college the same year and both became instant stars on the court and off, raking in massive NIL money (far more than they will make in WNBA salary). Bueckers won all major national player of the year awards as a freshman and UConn beat Iowa on the way to the Final Four. But Bueckers missed most of the next two seasons with injuries, while Clark became the all-time scorer in Division I and all women's basketball history. I find the story of these players and how their stories and historical places have flipped interesting.

• On the court: A prospective UConn-Purdue finales between two huge, skilled-but-not-very-athletic back-to-the-basket centers--Purdue's 7'4" 300-lb Zach Edey and UConn's 7'2" 280-lb Donovan Clingan. Basketball isn't supposed to be played that way anymore.

Update: One more, on what these Final Fours lack: The lightning rod of LSU and coach Kim Mulkey and all the off-court controversy she carries.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on April 2, 2024 at 10:38 AM in Howard Wasserman, Sports | Permalink


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