The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Final Four is one of the most watched and anticipated college basketball games to occur throughout the year. The Final Four consists of the last games of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. In the past, the Final Four games have been the most memorable and exciting games all season. Some former and current NBA players, like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Earvin “Magic” Johnson, build their reputations thanks to their participation in the NCAA. The Final Four can make or break a college team’s season and hopes of ever winning the tournament for the years to come.
The Final Four games have been known to set the tone for the championship game due to the intensity previous teams have demonstrated in the past. The 2011 tournament was one of those times. One of the two Final Four games was a fairly standard match-up, in which a No. 3 seed faced a No. 4. As for the matchup between the No. 8 Butler Bulldogs against the No. 11 VCU Rams was fairly basic, Butler won 70-62, only to lose the championship game to UConn. However, the message was incredibly loud and ridiculously clear: seeds are meaningless, and literally anybody can win at any time.
Another memorable matchup the Final Four has had was the game between the UCLA Bruins and the North Carolina State Wolfpack in 1974. The UCLA Bruins were a college basketball dynasty, having won seven championships in a row and seemingly well on their way to an eighth. Just one problem — North Carolina State wanted that title as well, and they were on a mission to win it all no matter how long it took. The game had the Wolfpack force two overtimes, come back from two major deficits (one late in regulation and another in the 2nd OT) and finally squeeze out an incredible 80-77 victory that sent UCLA home early for the first time in a long while. Even though NC State went on to win the title eventually, their true climax of their season had already occurred with their game against UCLA. The 1990 NCAA Championship game saw the University of Nevada in Las Vegas absolutely destroy Duke, 103-73. Things were different the second time around when both teams faced each other in the 1991 Final Four. This second matchup turned out to be an actual game, a back-and-forth affair that left both teams tied at 77 with under 13 seconds left in regulation. After UNLV failed to make a final shot to send the game into overtime, Duke avenged their total humiliation from a year back and won the title in the next game. The biggest thing Duke accomplished from that game was snapping a 45 win streak UNLV had, which was considered the longest unbeaten streak in college hoops history.
If you’re trying to think of an inspirational run that any college basketball team has gone through to win the title, consider putting the 1983 NC State team in that category. With 10 defeats, it didn't appear as if NC State was going to be invited to the "Big Dance." The Wolfpack surprisingly wins the ACC tournament and is in the NCAA Tournament. They’re not expected to do much, given they were a sixth seed, which gave them a 25-1 long shot to win the tournament. The most painful part the University of Houston had to face was when Lorenzo Charles slam dunked Dereck Whittenburg’s 32-foot air ball at the buzzer, giving NC State a stunning 54-52 victory in Albuquerque. The late and great coach Jim Valvano rushed on to the court looking for somebody to hug after his team claimed victory.
One of the most unfortunate and biggest blunder any college hoop player has faced was Chris Webber mistake in the last seconds of the 1993 Final Four game. Webber travels, but no referee calls it. Given a second chance, he hurriedly dribbles across midcourt, stopping in front of Michigan's bench. Then he signals for a timeout with 11 seconds remaining. The only problem was that the Wolverines were out of timeouts. Donald Williams, a North Carolina Tar Heel player, hits two free throws after the technical and another two after a foul wrapping up the Tar Heels’ 77-71 victory in the Superdome in New Orleans. After the game, Webber sits quietly and looked thoroughly miserable in the locker room.
The Final Four games are not always nice to watch after seeing one team suffer a heart-breaking loss, but those games are always left with people asking ‘what if’s. They could have done this, or they should have done that. Every moment spent in a Final Four game are precious, leaving the two teams with only one chance to make the play and win the game. Final Four games remain as one of the most watched live sporting events --- all thanks to its history.
The 2017 Men’s NCAA Final Four will be held in Phoenix, AZ at the University of Phoenix Stadium on April 1 and 3.