2009 March Madness Final 4 Includes North Carolina, Connecticut, Michigan State and Villanova

Three of the best teams in the country – Louisville, Pittsburgh and Memphis – have something in common with three of the worst teams in the country – Grambling, Alcorn State and New Jersey Tech.

Players from all six will be among the other 343 Division 1-A teams watching the games when #1 North Carolina meets #3 Villanova and #1 Connecticut meets #2 Michigan State to vie for the right to meet in the NCAA 2009 National Championship game during March Madness in Detroit (MI).

A funny thing happened on the way to the Final 4 in Detroit – 4 upsets occurred.

No. 2-seed Michigan State dominated #1-seed Louisville in the second half to win 64-52. No. 3-seed Villanova got a last second floater from Scottie Reynolds to nip #1-seed Pittsburgh 78-76. Villanova also crushed #2-seed Duke 77-54 before knocking out Pittsburgh.

No. 3-seed Missouri outscored mighty #2-seed Memphis (33-4 going in) 102-91 in a run-and-gun game without defense. It was little wonder that Missouri would be ousted by Connecticut in their Regional Final, 82-75, after the Huskies ran over Purdue 72-60.

Pittsburgh had its hands full with Xavier, winning 60-55, and the Panthers’ luck ran out against Villanova. North Carolina rolled over Gonzaga 98-77 and then gave Oklahoma the stats, played Tar Heel basketball and made it two in-a-row, winning 72-60.

Coach Roy Williams has North Carolina on a roll, making it to the Final 4 for the second consecutive year and a record 18th time overall, moving the Tar Heels out of a tie with UCLA at 17th appearances. North Carolina has a pedigree to envy with 4 NCAA Championships (1957, 1982, 1993 and 2005), 27 Atlantic Coast Conference Season Titles, an overall 73% winning record, and has the most consecutive 20-win seasons with 31 straight from 1970 through 2001.

Coach Jim Calhoun has led his Connecticut Huskies to the Final 4 for the 3rd time and demands close attention as he won the National Title in his first two trips in 1999 and 2004. Connecticut has been to 28 NCAA Tournaments, won 10 Big East Season Championships under Calhoun and currently is tied for 1st among all colleges with 13 active players in the NBA. Villanova has 1 National Championship with its stunning victory over defending champion Georgetown 66-64 in 1985.

Coach Rollie Massimino’s Wildcats, a #8 seed in the March Madness dance that year, played what is often referred to as the “perfect game”, shooting 78.6% from the field (9-of-10 in the 2nd half) as no Villanova player missed more than 2 field goal attempts, and the Wildcats hit 11 free throws in the last 2 minutes to seal their victory.

Coach Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans are not too shabby either. This season marks Michigan State’s 5th Final 4 appearance in the last 11 seasons, the most appearances by any NCAA men’s team during that span.

Izzo, who is in his 14th season at Michigan State, guided the Spartans to their 2nd National Championship in 2000. Michigan State won its 1st National Title in 1979 when Earvin “Magic” Johnson led the Spartans past unbeaten Indiana State and its legendary star Larry Bird. Both Johnson and Bird and Michael Jordan (a North Carolina graduate) would ignite the popularity of the NBA during their playing days. Izzo and his Spartans look pretty harmless but they just sneak up on you and before you know it, you help make their successful history. In his 14 years at Michigan State,

Izzo has taken the Spartans to their 12th consecutive NCAA tournament, compiled a 335-136 record (71%), and made 5 Final 4 appearances in 11 seasons. Every 4-year recruit that has competed for Izzo has made a Final 4 appearance in the Big Dance called March Madness. Last year was an anomaly as all 4 No. 1 seeds in the Tournament made it to the Final 4. Normally, only 2 of the 4 No. 1 seeds make it all the way to the Final 4, as was the case this year when #1 Louisville and #1 Pittsburgh were eliminated.

This year was unusual though as none of the Final 4 teams came in as Conference Tournament Champions, thus all 4 are at-large contestants, marking only the third time it has happened since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1985.

Here are the 2009 NCAA Tournament National Semifinal Match-Ups:

Saturday, April 4:

#1 Connecticut versus #2 Michigan State

#1 North Carolina versus #3 Villanova

The two winners will play for the National Championship on Monday, April 6.

Here are the 2009 NCAA Tournament Third Round Regional Semifinal Results:

East Regional:

#1 Pittsburgh eliminated #4 Xavier 60-55

#3 Villanova upset #2 Duke 77-54

West Regional:

#1 Connecticut eliminated #5 Purdue 72-60

#3 Missouri upset #2 Memphis 102-91

South Regional:

#1 North Carolina eliminated #4 Gonzaga 98-77

#2 Oklahoma eliminated #3 Syracuse 84-71

Midwest Regional:

#1 Louisville eliminated #12 Arizona 103-64

#2 Michigan State eliminated #3 Kansas 67-62

Here are the 2009 NCAA Tournament Fourth Round Regional Final Results:

East Regional:

#3 Villanova upset #1 Pittsburgh 78-76

West Regional:

#1 Connecticut eliminated #3 Missouri 82-75

South Regional:

#1 North Carolina eliminated #2 Oklahoma 72-60

Midwest Regional:

#2 Michigan State upset #1 Louisville 64-52

Copyright ?2009 Ed Bagley

No comments yet.
You must be logged in to post a comment.