The final weekend of the Big Dance is set. One of Michigan State, Auburn, Texas Tech, and Virginia is going to cut down the nets and host the NCAA Championship trophy. Each one has an incredible story. Heck, three of the coaches have never reached this point of the tournament.
For instance, take Virginia. The Cavaliers are only one year removed after being on the wrong on end of the biggest upset of all time. Mamadi Diakite went from a bench player to the key put-back as time expire to force overtime. Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome shot 2-11 in last year’s lone tournament game. In the Elite Eight contest versus Purdue, the guard duo went 9-22 (slightly better).
Meanwhile, Auburn lost one of it’s top scorers mid-game against the top-ranked North Carolina Tarheels. Chuma Okeke was the team’s high scorer in the game when he went down with a torn ACL. The Tigers haven’t missed a beat since. Bryce Brown and Jared Harper went off against the Kentucky Wildcats. The Tigers are one of the Final Four for the first time in program history.
Tom Izzo is no stranger to late-March, early-April. And even for Izzo this is truly unbelievable. Joshua Langford got injured earlier in the year. Kyle Aherns injured his ankle right before the tournament, delivering a huge blow to the Sparty’s backcourt. Oh and we cannot forget Jaren Jackson Jr and Miles Bridges left for the NBA. Yet here come the Spartans.
And finally we have Texas Tech. We’ve documented it a ton on this website but it bears repeating: Texas Tech lost four of it’s top five scorers from last year’s team. Davide Moretti and Matt Mooney help ease the pressure off of Jarrett Culver. Never mind Chris Beard’s journey to get where he is. That deserves it’s own book/movie.
The Final Four is set up for a magical finish. Make sure you follow along with Jeff and Good ‘N Plenty. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher. Also make sure you follow Jeff on Twitter.
2:30 – Purdue and Virginia – An all-time game?
11:58 – Bruce Pearl and Auburn shocks Kentucky into the Final Four
15:23 – John Calipari underperforming for Kentucky?
20:14 – What happened to Duke? Should Coach K be criticized?
25:56 – Tom Izzo and Michigan St. gets past Duke to make Final Four
28:57 – Texas Tech outduels Gonzaga to earn their first trip to Final Four
31:46 – The story of Texas Tech coach Chris Beard
35:40 – UCLA coach – Bruce Pearl or Chris Beard?