An incredible assortment of 64 NCAA teams entered the month of March with the hopes of being crowned as the newest champions of Division 1 college basketball. Now, only four remain. After an entire month of thrilling competition, the stage is finally set for the Final Four in Indianapolis to host several of the game’s most historic programs and legendary coaches.
The top seeded Duke Blue Devils will tip-off against the seventh seeded Michigan State Spartans first in Indianapolis. For the Blue Devils, a trip to the Final Four has become routine. Under the reign of Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski, Duke has made a dozen Final Four appearances, including five in a row from 1988-1992. Coach K has led Duke to four NCAA championship victories, most recently in 2010 located, coincidentally, in Indianapolis. The Duke roster features a plethora of young talent, most notably freshman guards Tyus Jones and Quinn Cook, as well as the potential number one pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Jahlil Okafor.
Across the court from the Blue Devils will be Tom Izzo and his Michigan State Spartans squad. Michigan State is the Cinderella story of the group and has made quite a miraculous run to the Final Four, after starting off the season losing three of their first nine games. As a matter of fact, it took the Spartans nearly three full months to take down their first ranked opponent. However, the Spartans got hot down the stretch and earned a seventh seed in the Big Dance after a tremendous showing at the Big Ten Conference Tournament. Much like their opponent, the Spartans owe much of their success to head coach Tom Izzo. This will be Izzo’s seventh Final Four appearance with Michigan State and he is seeking his second national championship.
The second semi-final matchup will be between the University of Wisconsin and an undefeated Kentucky Wildcats team. The Wisconsin Badgers have been nothing short of extraordinary this season, posting a 35-3 record throughout the regular season and playoffs. Many of those 35 wins can be credited to the incredible play of senior center Frank Kaminsky. The seven-footer from Chicago averaged 18.7 points per game and 8.0 rebounds per game throughout the regular season and looks like a favorite to win the 2015 Wooden Award given to the Men’s Player of the Year. The Badgers have breezed through the NCAA Tournament thus far, most recently posting a commanding 85-78 victory against the second seeded Arizona Wildcats. Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan is heralded as one of the greatest coaches to ever take the sidelines as he has been named the Big Ten Coach of the Year four times.
The road to history defining greatness is finally winding down for the Kentucky Wildcats. One of the most dominant college hoops teams ever assembled, the 2014-15 Cats look destined for the record books as they seek to cap off an undefeated season. Head Coach John Calipari is a masterful recruiter, as he was able to land some of the nation’s most talented players out of high school. Among these now-freshman superstars are forwards Karl-Anthony Towns and Trey Lyles. While UK is largely known for their wide array of “one and done” players, the Wildcats do have some veteran leadership this season. Seven-foot junior Willie Cauley-Stein has been a force down low for Kentucky this season while brothers Andrew and Aaron Harrison are averaging 9 and 11 points per game, respectively.
With the potential for a Cinderella upset from the Spartans and the continued story of the undefeated Wildcats facing off against two very talented opponents with the ability to crush their highest hopes, the Final Four is sure to provide two epic match-ups. Gear up for plenty of can’t miss action heading into the semi-final round as the Final Four duke it out for just two coveted spots at the 2015 NCAA Championship.