NCAA Tournament ‘Final Four’ preview

Author: Associated Press

Michigan State
East Lansing, 27-11.

Nickname: Spartans. Coach: Tom Izzo.

Conference: Big Ten. Bid: At large.

Region: East. Seed: No. 7.

Tournament Record: 63-27, 28 years. Last appearance: 2014.

Scoring: Team (71.4); Travis Trice 15.3; Denzel Valentine 14.3; Branden Dawson 11.9.

Rebounds: Team (37.5); Branden Dawson 9.1; Denzel Valentine 6.2; Matt Costello 5.2; Gavin Schilling 3.9.

Assists/Turnovers: Team (16.7/11.2); Travis Trice 5.1/1.7; Denzel Valentine 4.4/2.4.

3-pointers: Team (.386); Denzel Valentine 97; Travis Trice 88; Bryn Forbes 70.

Last Ten: 8-2.

The Skinny: Coach Izzo has a .742 (46-16) winning percentage in NCAA Tournament action and has led the Spartans to seven Final Fours including the 2000 national championship. Izzo is 13-9 when facing a higher seed. The Spartans have 11 losses, four more than the other three teams combined. This is the third straight year one conference has had two teams in the Final Four with Wisconsin and Michigan State coming from the Big Ten. MSU lost to Duke, 81-71, on November 18.


Durham, N.C., 33-4.

Nickname: Blue Devils. Coach: Mike Krzyzewski.

Conference: Atlantic Coast. Bid: At large.

Region: South. Seed: No. 1.

Tournament Record: 103-34, 38 years. Last appearance: 2014.

Scoring: Team (79.5); Jahil Okafor 17.5; Quinn Cook 15.5; Justise Winslow 12.5; Tyus Jones 11.6.

Rebounds: Team (36.9); Jahil Okafor 8.7; Justise Winslow 6.3; Amile Jefferson 5.7.

Assists/Turnovers: Team (15.4/11.0); Tyus Jones 5.7/2.0; Quinn Cook 2.7/1.3; Justise Winslow 2.1/1.8.

3-pointers: Team (.390); Quinn Cook 101; Justise Winslow 45; Tyus Jones 44; Matt Jones 41.

Last Ten: 9-1.

The Skinny: Coach Krzyzewski is making his 12th Final Four appearance, tying the legendary John Wooden. Coach K is tied with Adolph Rupp for second in titles with four. Duke is the only team in Division I with three freshmen averaging in double figures (Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones). Okafor is Duke’s 16th first-team Associated Press’ All-America and is the Blue Devils’ second freshman in as many years, with Jabari Parker being chosen last season.


Lexington, 38-0.

Nickname: Wildcats. Coach: John Calipari.

Conference: Southeastern. Bid: SEC champion.

Region: Midwest. Seed: No. 1.

Tournament Record: 122-48, 54 years. Last appearance: 2014.

Scoring: Team (74.6); Aaron Harrison 11.0; Devin Booker 10.1; Karl-Anthony Towns 10.0; Andrew Harrison 9.1; Willie Cauley-Stein 9.1.

Rebounds: Team (38.4); Karl-Anthony Towns 6.6; Willie Cauley-Stein 6.5; Trey Lyles 5.3; Dakari Johnson 4.7.

Assists/Turnovers: Team (14.4/10.6); Tyler Ulis 3.7/1.0; Andrew Harrison 3.6/1.7.

3-pointers: Team (.347); Aaron Harrison 59; Devin Booker 58; Andrew Harrison 35.

Last Ten: 10-0.

The Skinny: Kentucky is the first undefeated team to reach the Final Four since UNLV in 1991. Wildcats are two wins away from becoming the first undefeated national champion since Indiana in 1976. Kentucky win over Wisconsin in last year’s national semifinal came down to a big jumper by Aaron Harrison with 5.7 seconds left. Willie Cauley-Stein is the first first-team AP All-America to average less than 10 points per game.


Madison, 35-3.

Nickname: Badgers. Coach: Bo Ryan.

Conference: Big Ten. Bid: Big Ten champion.

Region: West. Seed: No. 1.

Tournament Record: 33-19, 20 years. Last appearance: 2014.

Scoring: Team (72.8); Frank Kaminsky 18.7; Sam Dekker 13.9; Nigel Hayes 12.4.

Rebounds: Team (33.4); Frank Kaminsky 8.0; Nigel Hayes 6.3; Sam Dekker 5.5.

Assists/Turnovers: Team (12.7/7.4); Frank Kaminsky 2.7/1.6; Traevon Jackson 2.6/1.6; Bronson Koenig 2.4/0.9; Nigel Hayes 2.1/1.3.

3-pointers: Team (.364); Bronson Koenig 60; John Gasser 48; Sam Dekker 48; Frank Kaminsky 39; Nigel Hayes 35.

Last Ten: 10-0.

The Skinny: Wisconsin is 23-13 in the NCAA tournament under Bo Ryan. The Badgers have the highest free-throw percentage (76.4) of the Final Four teams. All the coaches except Ryan, who made his Final Four debut last year at age 66, have won a national championship. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski has four titles, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo won it all in 2000, while John Calipari took the title with Kentucky in 2012. Kaminsky, the 7-foot senior, was a unanimous choice on The Associated Press’ All-America team.

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