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The Most Surprising Final Four Ever
In the sports world, this is known as the most exciting time of the year. It is repeated every year during the month of March, but this year you can add the words surprising, shocking, unbelievable or any others, that term what we have witnessed over the past two weeks.
The Final Four is set and it's safe to say that absolutely no one could have predicted the four teams still left standing. Florida Atlantic, San Diego State, Connecticut and Miami are headed to Houston with one of these surprise squads cutting down the nets next Monday night.
For the first time ever, there won't be any #1, #2 or #3 seeds playing in the national championship semifinals that begin Saturday night at NRG Stadium in Houston. Alabama and Houston were both #1 seeds in their region and the odds-on favorites to at least get to the Final Four. Fellow #1's, Kansas and Purdue bowed out even earlier, each of those not even advancing to the Sweet 16. Add in #2 seeds, Arizona, Marquette, UCLA and Texas all bowing out earlier than expected.
The highest seeded team remaining is #4, Connecticut and is currently the favorite to win it all. Probably under-seeded, coming into the tournament, the Huskies have steamrolled through competition, beating each opponent by an average of 23 points per game.
Their opponent in one semifinal will be #5 Miami, who overcame at 13-point second half deficit to defeat Texas in the Elite Eight. Both teams are well deserving of being here as each has had a fantastic season, winning 29 and 28 games respectively. It will feel like the national championship game will be played on Saturday between these two teams and some will say it is shame that one of these won't be playing for the title on Monday.
That's because the first semifinal will feature two Cinderella stories in Florida Atlantic and San Diego State. The Owls from Boca Raton, Florida has 35 victories but heading into the tournament were pretty much an unknown commodity because they didn't face many qualtiy opponents. The toughest team they faced all season was Mississippi. They lost that game back in November but then reeled off 20 consecutive wins. Once they got into the tournament, they defeated the likes of Tennessee and Kansas State, both higher seeds.
San Diego State seems to be an underachiever each year. Despite having exceptional talent and size, the Aztecs haven't done well in the big dance. Being eliminated in the first round the past two trips, this year they have run the table and look very strong. They are one of the best defensive teams in the country but can be offensively challenged. San Diego State scored only 57 points in their win over Creighton and shot only 38%. But defensive travels and with seven seniors on their roster they are favored to be in the championship game.
It may seem like an unheralded group going to Houston, but as we know, no matter the name of the front of the jersey, anything can happen and team can win on any given night. Who will be the one that strings two more victories together? That team will be called national champions in the most surprising season ever in college basketball.
Final Four at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas - Saturday March 31st
3:09pm - #9 Florida Atlantic vs #5 San Diego State
5::39pm - #5 Miami vs #4 Connecticut
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