Finally, Four

Purdue and NC State join UConn and Alabama in Phoenix. A quick look at the field, plus the sheer joy for two fan bases that were craving a Final Four. Also, Zach Edey is really good.

Five days of hype, previews, arguing, and quotes. It’s Final Four week.

Let's dive in.

1. It’s quite the foursome

After five months, nearly 1,300 games and thousands of whistles (more on that later), we’ve got our Final Four.

  • Alabama: It’s the Tide’s first appearance in the national semifinals, and the first by an SEC school since 2019. They feature the nation’s third-most efficient scoring defense (behind UConn and Purdue), but perhaps the most explosive of the bunch because Bama (25-11) takes a ton of 3s (46.6% of their total attempts) and makes ‘em (37.1%, 21st in D-I).

  • NC State: Four ACC schools made the Sweet 16, but the Wolfpack are the last ones standing. Props to the people who picked that in their bracket. State hasn’t been this far since it won it all in 1983, and at 26-14, is the team with the most losses, and just the 6th 11 seed to make it this far. Not that it’ll derail their vibes, especially after beating Tobacco Road rival Duke on Sunday.

  • Purdue: The Big Ten champs feature the (likely) National POY in Zach Edey, are 33-4 and are in their first Final Four since 1980. Yes, this is the year after the Boilermakers became just the second No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 seed. You might’ve heard about it. More importantly, with Edey in the middle surrounded by a team that shoots 40.6% from 3, they’ll have decent odds to win the first NCAA Tournament title in school history.

  • UConn: The reigning champs are 35-4 and have won 10 straight NCAA Tournament games by double-digits, a record. They’re going for their sixth title, which would tie them with North Carolina for the third most of all time. It’s their seventh Final Four appearance, all since 1999. A title would make the case for one of the sport’s all-time great teams.

Also fun? While all four coaches are at power conference schools, they’ve all spent time coaches at low- and mid-major schools. They’re paid their dues to get here.

UConn and Purdue significant favorites — the Huskies opened as 11.5-point favorites vs. Bama; Purdue’s got 9 vs. NC State — setting up Saturday as a showcase of two of the season’s most consistent and best teams against two of the tourney’s big surprises.

Sounds about right for the Final Four. It’s gonna be an awesome week.

2. Sunday was pure joy for two fan bases

NC State’s one of 15 programs with multiple NCAA Tournament titles, making it a program with a proud history. But recent history hasn’t been as kind, making this Final Four appearance — its first in 41 years — incredibly sweet.

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