March Madness: 5 Things You Need to Know Heading Into the Final Four
The 2015 men’s college basketball Final Four has the potential to be one for the ages. We will have the privilege of witnessing four of the most successful programs in the country, with four of the best coaches college basketball has ever seen, battle it out for the right to be crowned the national champions of the 2014-15 NCAA basketball season. If that weren’t enough, the Kentucky Wildcats are now only two games away from completing an undefeated season.
With that, here is a look at five things you need to know heading into the 2015 Final Four.
1. Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo, John Calipari, and Bo Ryan have combined for 25 Final Four appearances over the course of their careers.
This group of Final Four coaches is truly a who’s who of current college basketball coaches. On top of the 25 Final Four appearances, they have combined to win six NCAA Division-I national championships, and nine total national championships if you include the three Ryan won while he was coaching at Wisconsin-Platteville, a Division-III school. On top of that, these four coaches have also combined to win six national Coach of the Year awards and countless conference titles. This may be the greatest collection of head coaches in Final Four history.
2. Michigan State became the sixth team to make the Final Four as a No. 7 seed or worse since 2011.
Head coach Tom Izzo turned in one of the best coaching jobs of his Hall of Fame career this year in leading the Spartans’ transformation from being a bubble team to a Final Four team during the month of March. Since 1979, only 14 teams seeded as a No. 7 or worse have made the Final Four, and Izzo’s team became the sixth team to accomplish the feat since 2011. Here is a quick look at the others:
- Michigan State (7) – 2015
- UConn (7) – 2014
- Kentucky (8) – 2014
- Wichita State (9) – 2013
- Virginia Commonwealth (11) – 2011
- Butler Bulldogs (8) – 2011
- George Mason Patriots (11) – 2006
- North Carolina Tar Heels (8) – 2000
- Wisconsin Badgers (8) – 2000
- LSU Tigers (11) – 1986
- Villanova Wildcats (8) – 1985
- Virginia Cavaliers (7) – 1984
- UCLA Bruins (8) – 1980
- Pennsylvania Quakers (9) – 1979
3. The Kentucky Wildcats’ last loss came on April 7, 2014.
The last time John Calipari’s crew tasted defeat was in the 2014 NCAA Tournament Championship Game. The loss came at the hands of the Kemba Walker and the UConn Huskies after both Kentucky and UConn went on surprising NCAA Tournament runs to reach the title game. Both teams underachieved for most of the 2013-14 season and the Wildcats ultimately received a No. 8 seed, while the Huskies received a No. 7 seed for the Big Dance. In a move that has paid off in a major way, Willie Caluey-Stein along with Aaron and Andrew Harrison chose to bypass the 2014 NBA Draft to return to school for another shot at a national championship before turning professional.
4. The Kentucky Wildcats have a chance at completing the first undefeated season in men’s college basketball since 1976.
At 38-0, Kentucky is only two games away from becoming the first men’s college basketball team since the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers to have a perfect season. They have survived several scares along the way, and may be facing their toughest challenge yet this Saturday against the Wisconsin Badgers. However, the fact still remains that the Wildcats are the heavy favorites to be the team cutting down the nets in Indianapolis on Monday night.
5. Tickets to the two Final Four Games and the Championship Game are selling for record amounts.
Three of the four schools competing in the 2015 Final Four are located within 350 miles of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and the fourth, Duke, is located only 600 miles away. When you combine that with two excellent Final Four match-ups, a legendary group of coaches on the sidelines, and Kentucky’s pursuit of perfection, you have the recipe for skyrocketing ticket prices. According to data from TiqIQ, an All Sessions Pass – access to both Final Four games and the Championship Game — is going for an average of $1,996.01, which is up almost $500 from 2014. The average price for a single-game ticket to the two semi-final games is $1,081.44, and the average price for a ticket to the Championship Game only is currently $754.95. After the completion of the two Final Four games on Saturday, the prices for Championship Game tickets are expected to escalate dramatically.