For what more could we possibly ask? Over two days, eight teams exuded personality, created palpable drama, and competed for regional championships. Wisconsin, Kentucky, Michigan State, and Duke advanced but Arizona, Notre Dame, Louisville, and Gonzaga deserve admiration for their efforts in a memorable weekend of high quality college basketball. Making a Final Four is no easy feat. In a “championship or bust” sports culture, it becomes easier and easier to overlook the fact that 4 teams, 1.14% of the 351 Division I schools, qualified for and survived a single elimination tournament with insane variation in seeding, matchups, and location. Each team brings a unique story and set of qualities that make this one of the most anticipated Final Fours of recent memory.
The number 1,000 doesn’t hold a sacred spot in college basketball fans’ hearts the way 755, 300, or 56 might for baseball fans – mostly because 1,000 is nearly incomprehensible. That he’s gotten to 999 victories speaks to Duke Head Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s longevity as much as it does his unparalleled talent. After amassing 73 wins and 0 NCAA Tournament appearances from 1975-80 at Army, Coach K took over a less-than-powerful Duke program. Before long, the Blue Devils looked strong, then dominant, then dynastic. In 35 seasons since, Duke has 4 National Titles, 8 Title game appearances, 11 Final Fours, and an astounding 30 Tournament appearances.