US NCAA: Final Four Cast
by Henry Liao for philippinebasketball.ph (03/27/2012)
The national semifinal games will be played on March 31 (Apr. 1, Manila time) at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The Final Four winners then will vie for the NCAA diadem on Apr. 2 (Apr. 3, Manila time), also at the Superdome.
Of the quartet, only the Kentucky Wildcats were a No. 1 seed in one of the four regionals. It marked the 12th time that only a single No. 1 seed earned a Final Four berth since the four-regional seeding system was employed in 1979 (the others being 2010, 2004, 2003, 2000, 1998, 1995, 1994, 1992, 1990, 1989 and 1979).
The John Calipari-coached Wildcats, who also are ranked No. 1 overall in the national polls, walloped the Baylor Bears, 82-70, to capture the South Regional title.
Fourth seed Lousiville (30-9) downed seventh seed Florida, 72-68, to annex the West Regional crown. Top-seeded and nationally fifth-ranked Michigan State fell to the Rick Pitino-mentored Cardinals, 57-44, in the regional semifinals.
Ohio State, a No. 2 seed, registered a 77-70 upset against top seed and nationally second-ranked Syracuse in the finals of the East Regional. The Buckeyes will be making their first Final Four trip since losing to Florida in the 2007 championship game.
Kansas, also a No. 2 seed, knocked off top-seeded and nationally fourth-rated North Carolina, 80-67, to romp away with the Midwest Regional championship.
Kentucky is bidding to become the first team ranked No. 1 overall in the final national polls to win the NCAA tournament since Duke University in 2001.
The Wildcats, who last won the NCAA crown in 1998, have the second most number of championships in NCAA Division I history with seven.
The UCLA Bruins top the all-time list with 11 titles.
All Final Four participants have previously won national championships.
Kansas owns three NCAA titles, the last coming in 2008.
Louisville has two ? 1980 and 1986.
Ohio State chalked up its lone NCAA crown in 1960 behind future NBA stars Jerry Lucas and John (Hondo) Havlicek.
Connecticut, last year?s NCAA champion, received an at-large berth out of the Big East Conference in the 2012 tournament but the ninth-seeded Huskies were ousted by the eighth-seeded Iowa State Cyclones, 77-64, in the second round of the South Regional.
Connecticut snared the 2011 crown with a 53-41 shellacking of back-to-back runner-up Butler in the finals at Houston.