Final Four

Video: 1982 title game finish in claymation

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One of the most iconic NCAA tournament championship game has gotten the ‘Celebrity Deathmatch’ treatment.

The finish to the 1982 title game, which earned Dean Smith his first national championship and launched Michael Jordan to super-stardom, was recreated in claymation by the ACC Digital Network, and, boy, is it something.

It starts with Jordan’s game-winning jumper from the baseline and ends with confetti raining down on Smith, Jordan and James Worthy, but the video’s best moment comes in the middle where a WWE-style trick is really the only explanation for Fred Brown’s errant pass to Worthy that sealed the Tar Heel victory.


‘One Shining Moment’ to receive new treatment this year

Marshall Plumlee, Grayson Allen, Justise Winslow, Jahlil Okafor, Matt Jones,Tyrus Jones

Turner is once again switching it up when it comes to the iconic finish to the NCAA tournament.

The company is using a new artist for the vocals of the classic ‘One Shining Moment’ that plays over the tournament montage following the conclusion of the title game broadcast.

Luther Vandross’ version has been played 12 of the last 13 years, with Jennifer Hudson’s rendition replacing it for the 2010 season.

That change was, to put it lightly, not received well. Turner isn’t saying who the new artist is, but the Internet, and specifically social media, is a nostalgic place where change rarely goes over well at first. Given the explosion of social media over the last six years, it’s probably safe to assume the initial general reaction to whoever is replacing Vandross this year will be even more overwhelming than before.

Although it may be worth noting that one thing the Internet is mostly in agreement with is its approval of Beyonce, who is a native of Houston, the site of this year’s Final Four.

We’ll find out what’s in store Monday night.

Rematches: Reviewing this season’s Final Four previews

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We got a number of preludes to this season’s Final Four.

Both of the national semifinal matchups are rematches from earlier this season, with Oklahoma and Villanova meeting in a non-conference neutral-site game, and North Carolina and Syracuse meeting twice in ACC play.

All three games provide insight into what might matter most when these teams meet again in Houston with much, much more on the line.

December 7, 2015: No. 7 Oklahoma 78, No. 9 Villanova 55: The good news for the Wildcats was this game was a long, long time ago.

Because it was a good old-fashioned thumping.

The Sooners made as many 3-pointers (14) as 2-pointers, shooting 53.8 percent from beyond the arc. Buddy Hield was 4 of 9, Isaiah Cousins 4 of 4 and Dinjiyl Walker 3 of 5 in the game played in Hawaii. While certainly a hot-shooting night for Oklahoma, the problem for Villanova this weekend is that type of performance isn’t so outside the norm. The Sooners are second nationally in 3-point shooting percentage at 42.8 for the season, and 3-pointers make up 38.9 percent of their season point total. When Jay Wright is watching film this week, he’ll see what goes wrong if you can’t at least chase the Sooners off the line a little bit.

The good news for the Wildcats are they aren’t likely to repeat the 4-of-32 performance they put up form the 3-point line. That’s 12.5 percent for a team that went on to shoot 35.4 percent from 3-point range.

How either team shoots from distance in the rematch Saturday could largely determine who plays for a national title Monday.

January 9, 2016: No. 6 North Carolina 84, Syracuse 73: Much of the commentary on this Final Four matchup has been the NCAA turmoil both programs have been in, and that was at the forefront during this first meeting earlier this year as it was coach Jim Boeheim’s first game back from a nine-game suspension for violations.

The Tar Heels, though, spoiled his return to the Carrier Dome as they mostly controlled the game from the outset. They were able to beat the Orange’s zone near the basket, shooting 64.4 percent from inside the arc for the night with 6-foot-9 junior Isaiah Hicks going for 21 points, more than half of which came at the free-throw line. Brice Johnson and Justin Jackson combined for 32 points. Together, the trio was 20 of 26 from the floor, decimating the Orange inside.

The bright spot for Syracuse was Trevor Cooney’s 27 points on 10 of 21 shooting, but Michael Gbinije struggled to the tune of a 0 of 6 mark from 3-point range.

February 29, 2016: No. 8 North Carolina 75, Syracuse 70: The rematch in Chapel Hill was more of a one-sided affair than the final score indicates.

UNC pummeled the Orange on the glass, grabbing 19 offensive rebounds (46.3 percent). Johnson had 14 points and 10 rebounds while four other Tar Heels also finished in double figures scoring.

Syracuse got 17 points and seven assists from Michael Gbinije and 11 rebounds from Tyler Roberson, but shot 5 of 20 (25 percent) from 3-point range while turning it over 15 times. The Orange were able to better corral UNC’s bigs in this go-round, but the Tar Heels still were able to find success inside as they shot 6 of 25 from 3-point range.

Syracuse’s bid to play for its first championship since 2003 could rest largely on the adjustments the Orange make to keep the damage UNC’s posts do to a minimum.

Final Four sites named through 2021

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On Friday evening, the Final Four sites for 2017-2021 were announced on live on the CBS Sports Network before the start of the Quicken Loans Veterans Classic in Annapolis, Maryland.

2017: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona

2018: Alamodome, San Antonio

2019: “Vikings Stadium”, Minneapolis

2020: “New Atlanta Stadium”, Atlanta

2021: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

The other locations that competed for Final Fours were New Orleans, North Texas (Dallas) and St. Louis. The 2017 Final Four will mark the first time the University of Phoenix hosts the event. Minneapolis, which expects to open a new stadium in 2016, gets the Final Four in 2019, a year after Super Bowl LII is played there. Atlanta is also expected to open a new stadium in 2017.

The 2015 Final Four will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The 2016 Final Four, which was previously announced, will be hosted by NRG Stadium in Houston.

Phoenix/Glendale bid organizers hope to reel in Final Four

San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals
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In the recent history of the Final Four the need to have a large arena, one that’s able to accommodate at least 60,000 fans, has resulted in the event being played in a few select cities. Texas has hosted a pair of Final Fours this century, with Houston doing so in 2011 and Arlington hosting the event last season. Cities such as Indianapolis and New Orleans have become fixtures on the list of Final Four hosts, but the latest round of bidding to host a Final Four has resulted in other locales getting into the act.

One metropolitan area that has joined the bidding process is Phoenix, with the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona being the proposed host. With hopes of getting the opportunity to host a Final Four at some point during the 2017-2020 “rotation,” officials for the region’s organizing committee are hosting members of the Division I men’s basketball committee Tuesday and Wednesday.

And in a story written by Jeff Metcalfe of, the organizing committee is looking to apply lessons learned from a failed attempt in 2008 to earn the honor of hosting college basketball’s most important event. One lesson: make sure the host school, Arizona State, is more intimately involved with the process of putting together a bid for the Final Four.

“We knew we wanted to bid again, although that was the first question we asked ourselves,” said Dawn Rogers, Arizona State senior associate athletic director. “We talked with (ASU President) Dr. (Michael) Crow to make sure this is something the university wanted to support.”

Crow not only encouraged another bid but wants the nation’s largest university to be a much more active partner than most host institutions.

Changes within the Arizona State system have helped the organizing committee strengthen its bid, with the school’s Phoenix campus better developed now than it was in 2008. As a result, the committee has made greater use of that campus when discussing the possibilities with the men’s basketball committee when it comes to what activities could be hosted Final Four weekend.

Having a Final Four in the Phoenix metropolitan area would bring the Final Four back to the western United States for the first time since 1995, when the since-demolished Kingdome in Seattle played the role of host. With that building gone, University of Phoenix Stadium is essentially the region’s best hope at hosting the Final Four in the near future.

And one would have to imagine that the region’s weather (average temperature of 85 degrees in April) would be a selling point as well.

Updates on potential sites for future Final Fours, First Fours

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Some progress has been made in the process of picking locations for the Final Fours in 2017-2020, according to’s Andy Katz.

Houston, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Detroit are, as Katz termed it, “unlikely” to receive any of those four Final Four. That leaves Indianapolis, New Orleans, San Antonio, North Texas, Phoenix and Atlanta as the remaining options.

Indianapolis will likely get one of those four Final Fours. Not only is it where the NCAA calls home, but it’s also the best city for hosting major sporting events. Lucas Oil Stadium is located downtown with a myriad of hotels, bars and restaurants surrounding it. Everything worth going to is within walking distance, which creates a terrific atmosphere for a three-day event like the Final Four.

North Texas, where the 2014 Final Four was held, was awful. Cowboys Stadium is a good 30 minutes outside of Dallas, there’s no centralized location where fans can congregate and getting to the stadium for the game is an absolute nightmare.

As much as I would enjoy a trip to Phoenix in the spring, if I was the one making the picks here, Indy, New Orleans, Atlanta and San Antonio would be the four cities getting these Final Fours.

Katz also mentioned in that report that Sioux Falls, South Dakota, will be making a push to host the First Four at the Sanford Pentagon Arena. That building played host to a game between Wisconsin and St. John’s last November. Wichita State and Memphis will play there this season.