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Final Four History
Virtually every college basketball fan who has ever held Final Four tickets has been able to say that they saw a great memory – either a classic game, an unbelievable play, or a great performance for the ages by an individual player. The Final Four – the national semi-finals and finals of college basketball – has become an American institution, thanks in large parts to these memories.
Perhaps the greatest Final Four memory was not technically in the Final Four, but it did end up sending the Duke Blue Devils to a Final Four. Everyone has seen Grant Hill’s 3/4-court-length toss to Christian Laettner probably hundreds of times in their lives.
That miracle sequence, including the catch, dribble, head fake and shot from above the key, occurring in the final 2.1 seconds of an overtime versus Kentucky in the 1992 Elite Eight, gave Duke a 104-103 win.
In 1990, the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV made history. Led by controversial coach Jerry Tarkanian, UNLV ran right past Duke for a 103-73 win in the NCAA basketball finals to give the school the largest margin of victory in a championship game in history.
The name Syracuse is familiar to any college hoop fan. The school has been to the Final Four on four occasions, but legendary Head Coach Jim Boeheim had to wait until 2003 to win his first career national title. That year, freshman forward Carmelo Anthony lead a team that was unranked to start the season all the way to the promised land. It was his only collegiate season and he was tabbed the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player before moving on to the NBA and becoming a superstar.
The 1985 Final Four featured two schools in Syracuse’s Big East Conference in the finals, though one of them, eighth-seeded Villanova, was a dark horse, to say the least. Those in the arena that year were treated to a 68-64 Villanova upset victory over Georgetown in the finals. They remain the lowest seed to win the tournament, as well as a constant reminder that just about anything can happen during March Madness - including the Final Four.
Schools from smaller conferences, or mid-majors, have made the Final Four especially interesting in recent years. Butler University, then a member of the Horizon League, fought its way into the Final Four in consecutive seasons in 2010 and 2011. The Bulldogs defeated Michigan State to earn a berth in the championship versus Duke in 2010. A desperate half-court shot at the buzzer by eventual NBA guard Gordon Hayward did not land for Butler, giving Duke a national championship by a 61-59 margin.
A year later, Butler outpaced Virginia Commonwealth University, another mid-major or “Cinderella”, to earn its second straight trip to the national championship stage. The Butler-University of Connecticut championship game ended Butler's Cinderella bid as the Huskies won 53-41 for their third national title in just 12 seasons.
The George Mason Patriots, however, are the Final Four’s mid-major darling. In 2006, George Mason, out of the Colonial Athletic Association, lost to Florida in the Final Four, but victories over UConn, Michigan State and North Carolina captured America’s attention, if not its heart, to qualify for the Final Four. The team qualified for the NCAA tourney again only twice in the next five seasons, demonstrating how precious any Final Four appearance is.
But the tournament and the Final Four, has, by and large, belonged to the big name schools, and big name athletes. Michael Jordan thrilled fans in 1982 with a game-clinching shot in the finals versus the Georgetown Hoyas, as Jordan’s North Carolina Tar Heels won 63-62 in New Orleans that season.
Legendary college basketball coach Bobby Knight won his final title in 1987 versus Syracuse when he was with Indiana. Keith Smart’s game winning shot for Indiana late in that game provided the memory for that year’s Final Four. The win was not only Coach Knight’s final national championship, but also that of Indiana University. The school did reach the 2002 final as a 5-seed, but fell to the University of Maryland.
One of the biggest championship game upsets occurred in 1983, when the N.C. State Wolfpack met the Houston Cougars, known by their Phi Slamma Jamma nickname. The heavily-favored Cougars fell to the upstart Wolfpack when Lorenzo Charles dunked a 30-foot air ball from the tournament’s leading scorer, Dereck Whittenburg with seconds remaining. The victory cemented NC State Head Coach Jim Valvano in NCAA lore, as he scrambled around the court at the final buzzer, looking for someone to hug in his greatest coaching moment.
No discussion of the Final Four can be held without discussing the UCLA Bruins. The school not only leads the sport in national championships (11), 10 of those 11 wins came in a 12-year span, from 1964-1975. The program reeled off seven straight national titles from 1967-1973 under legendary coach John Wooden and remains a would-be “measuring stick” for all other potential “college dynasty” conversation.
To put the Bruins’ NCAA accomplishments in perspective, here are some of the records associated with the program:
7 consecutive NCAA titles (1967–1973)
12 NCAA title game appearances
18 Final Four appearances
10 consecutive Final Four appearances (1967–1976)
25 Final Four wins
38 game NCAA Tournament winning streak (1964–1974)
Imagine a team not losing an NCAA tournament game in 11 years, never mind the consecutive championships? The program then went the three consecutive Final Fours again in 2006-2008 under coach Ben Howland.
Almost as highly regarded in NCAA lore is the University of Kentucky program. The school is second in national championships with eight. Unlike UCLA, which won all of its titles under Wooden, Kentucky has seen five different coaches lead their lauded university to the national title. Of course, legendary coach Adolph Rupp netted four titles of his own.
Kentucky has made 15 separate Final Fours, spanning from 1942 to 2012. Rupp coached the program from 1930 to 1972, retiring at age 70 only because of a university rule that forced retirement at that age. Rupp’s Wildcats appeared in 20 NCAA Tournaments and six Final Fours. Other Kentucky coaches to bring home a national title are Joe B. Hall (1978), Rick Pitino (1996), Tubby Smith (1998) and John Calipari (2012).
Thanks to an exciting blend of legendary universities and hungry mid-majors, the NCAA Tournament and its Final Four will continue to provide rich memories and great history for college basketball fans for generations to come.
Final Four News
3-27-17: The 2017 NCAA Tournament has boiled down to four schools, and Gonzaga, South Carolina, North Carolina and Oregon will each head to University of Phoenix Stadium looking to punch their ticket to next Monday’s championship game. The Zags head to their first-ever Final Four on the heels of an 83-59 routing of Xavier at SAP Center. They’ll face South Carolina, also making its first Final Four appearance in school history, in the earlier matchup on Saturday. North Carolina earned its way to Glendale on a game-winning jump shot from sophomore Luke Maye with three seconds remaining against Kentucky. The Tar Heels move on to face Oregon, who set to play in the Final Four for the first time since 1939. Gonzaga-South Carolina tips off at 6:09 pm EST on Saturday followed by North Carolina-Oregon at 8:49 pm EST.
3-28-16: Buzzer beaters, improbable comebacks, and Cinderella runs - it's what the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is all about. This year's 68-team tournament has been nothing short of captivating, from Middle Tennessee State eliminating Michigan State to Texas A&M's incredible 12-point rally over Northern Iowa with under one minute remaining. The Final Four is now upon us, pitting Villanova against Oklahoma and UNC against latest Cinderella Syracuse at NRG Stadium.
Expect to pay big prices if looking to attend any of the upcoming games on Saturday and Monday, however. As it stands now tickets for an All Sessions Pass (which includes access to both Semifinal games and the Championship Game) now average $1,756.93 and the cheapest is listed for $412.
Looking to just attend the Semifinal games on April 2? The average resale price for Final Four Session 1 tickets (access to both Semifinal games) is now $1,096.09 and the get-in price is $256. The Championship Game is also garnering big price points. The average resale price for 2016 NCAA Tournament Championship Game tickets is now $917.76, making it the most expensive Championship Game on average since at least 2011. The cheapest ticket to the title game is currently $134.
4-5-15: The 2015 NCAA Final Four Championship game is set, and the Duke Blue Devils will take on the Wisconsin Badgers on Monday night at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
4-1-15: The Final Four will begin this Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. In the earlier game, Duke will take on Michigan State and will be followed by Kentucky vs Wisconsin. Now just three days away, the average price for tickets on TicketIQ is $1,107.77 and the get-in price starts at $293. Those tickets honor both Saturday games. Winners will advance to the championship game, which will be held on Monday night.
3-31-15: The stage is now set for this year’s NCAA Tournament Final Four. Michigan State and Duke will battle at Lucas Oil Stadium this Saturday prior to Kentucky and Wisconsin’s showdown later that evening. For fans hoping to attend, ticket prices are reaching historical highs on the secondary market. The average secondary price for tickets on TicketIQ is $1,151.98, marking the most expensive average price since at least 2011. This year’s Final Four average breaks the record set in 2013, when tickets averaged at $1,032.48. The cheapest available ticket to this year’s two games is currently listed for $327.
3-29-15: The last two spots of the Final Four are set. Michigan State defeated Louisville 76-70 on Saturday, while Duke beat Gonzaga 66-52. The two teams will now face each other on Saturday, April 4. So Saturday's schedule is as follows:
Session 1 (Semifinals):
6:09 PM - Wisconsin Badgers vs. Kentucky Wildcats
8:49 PM - Michigan State Spartans vs. Duke Blue Devils
The winners will square off in the NCAA basketball tournament championship game will be played on Monday April 6, 2015 in Indianapolis.
3-28-15: Two of the 2015 NCAA Men's Final Four are set. The Kentucky Wildcats continued their perfect season with a 68-66 win over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. The Wisconsin Badgers also punched their tickets with an 85-78 win over the Arizona Wildcats at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
3-24-15: The Final Four will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on April 4. With 16 teams still vying for a spot, the average price for tickets on TicketIQ is currently $925.71 and the get-in price starts at $235.
4-4-14: tickets continue to fall in price and as of April 4th have hit their lowest point yet. An all-session strip currently averages $651 on the secondary market, a 22% decrease in the past 24 hours alone. Tickets for the semi-finals saw the next biggest decrease, falling 21% to an average of $402 per ticket.
4-3-14: Final Four ticket prices continue to fall, as the All Session strip has dropped $72 (8%) in the past 24 hours to an average of $838. The Semi-Finals session currently averages $513 which is even from yesterday. The Championship game also saw a drop from $437 to $420 in the past 24 hours.
4-2-14: Since the Final Four match-ups were set last weekend, prices for tickets have been fluctuating greatly. After going up over the first 48 hours after the Elite Eight came to an end, leaving tickets at a higher price point than any recent final four, prices have been dropping consistently. Currently, the average price for the semifinals is $513 a drop of nearly $60 since Monday. Championship game prices have dropped nearly the same amount, falling from $494 on Monday to $437 today. The all-session strip has also dropped, falling from $1023 to $990.
4-1-14: After this weekend's action, the Men's final four for 2014 is set. Top seeded Florida will take on Connecticut and No. 2 Wisconsin will take on Kentucky. The average ticket price of the secondary market for April 5th semi-finals is $590. The championship game two days later averages $522. An all-session strip is the priciest Final Four ticket, at an average of $1015.
3-30-14: The current average price for the Final Four all sessions strip is $1,301.72 with a get in of $359. Below is the average and get in price for previous Final Four all session tickets:
2011-(Kentucky, UCONN, VCU, Butler):$856.14 ($213)
2012-(Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State, Kansas):$822.53 ($201)
2013-(Louisville, Wichita State, Michigan, Syracuse): $895.69 ($331)
The average price for a ticket to the Final Four is currently is $669.11 with a get in price of $206. Below is the average and get in price for previous tickets:
2011: $595.41 ($161)
2012: $722.74 ($185)
2013: $887.90 ($309)
The highest priced ticket currently listed for the Final Four is in Lower Prime 111 listed for $8,100. There are also suites listed for up to $31,900+
The current average price for the National Championship game is $561.32 with a get in of $118: Below is the average price and get in for the past 3 National Championship games:
2011- (UCONN v Butler): $316.75 ($60)
2012- (Kentucky v Kansas): $362.60 ($65)
2013- (Louisville v Michigan): $486.16 ($91)
3-28-14: We're one step closer to the Final Four with of the teams selected for the Elite 8. Thus far Dayton, Florida, Arizona, and Wisconsin will each go at it for a ticket to Dallas. Tonight's games feature Uconn vs Iowa State, Virginia vs Michigan State, Michigan vs Tennessee, and Kentucky vs Louisville.
3-27-14: The first set of Sweet 16 games kick off tonight as we inch closer to the Final Four. Tonight's action sees two cinderella teams battle it out with Dayton vs Stanford followed by Florida vs UCLA. Out west at the Honda Center in Anaheim, San Diego State vs Arizona will be preceded by Baylor vs. Wisconsin.
3-26-14: Within the past 24 hours, the average price for all session strip for the Final four has increased $9.87 on the secondary market. The Semi Finals session saw a $52.54 increase (8.79%). Finally, the championship game actually saw a 3.90% decrease from $615.80 to $591.80. The regionals will get underway on Thursday night.
3-25-14: tickets update over the past 24 hours: The All session strip has increased .61% to increase from $1107.97 to $1114.75. The semi final session has gone down 2.53% from $613.40 to $597.89. The championship has increased 5% from $586.44 to $615.80. The overall tournament average is $389.36 on the secondary market.
3-24-14: Rounds 2 & 3 of the NCAA tournament saw a plethra of notable upsets. We now know that top candidates such as Wichita State, Duke, Kansas, and Syracuse will not be making a trip to the Final Four. Instead, cinderella squads such as Dayton and Stanford have a chance to punch a ticket to the big dance. The other 3 no.1 seeds (Arizona, Florida, and Virginia) still remain for Sweet 16 action later this week.
3-21-14: All aspects of 2014 tickets saw an increase on the secondary market in the past 24 hours. The All Session strip increased $20.90 to a new average of $1,112.71, the semi finals went up 5.16% percent to $595.84, and the championship game saw a 5.67% increase to a new average of $613.62
3-20-14: Many fans' brackets were busted thanks to an upset win with Dayton beating Ohio State 60-59. There was balanced scoring from Dayton with 5 players with 9 or more points. Aaron Craft played a strong game for the Buckeyes with 16 points, 4 steals, and 5 rebounds. However, Craft missed a last second highly contested drive to the basket that would have sealed the victory.
3-19-14: Before the Final Four, we must first decide the first four. Yesterday's action in Dayton saw Albany beating Mount Saint Mary's and NC State defeating Xavier. The Great Danes were lead by DJ Evans with 22 points and 9 rebounds while playing all 40 minutes. Will Miller had 21 points in 26 minutes off the bench for Mount Saint Mary's.
3-18-14: Ticket prices for the 2014 Final Four has remained fairly consistent this week. The average ticket prices for the semi finals has fallen by 2% this week, and the average asking price for the championship game has fallen by 1% this week. An all session strip currently averages $1,116 on the resale market with cheapest available being $349.
3-17-14: With the selection of the NCAA tournament bracket yesterday, the top 4 seeds came with little surprise. Florida topped the south, Arizona topped the west, Wichita State took the top seed in the midwest and Virginia kept the top slot in the east. Louisville, who took the 4th seed in the Midwest is the current favorite from the experts to win it all.
3-14-14: Bracketology expert Jerry Palm from CBS Sports has replaced his first four after yesterday's conference tournament action. His new batch of first four is SMU, Providence, Tennessee and Missouri. He removed Cal, Arkansas, Minnesota, and BYU. Conference tournament action continue today and throughout the weekend with selection Sunday this weekend.
3-13-14: With Villanova taking an early exit in the Big East tournament, they may have shown some weaknesses en route to the main tournament. Many experts are considering dropping them from their top seeds. Similar reservations have been made about the 34-0 Wichita State Shockers, due to their lack of quality opponents during the regular season.
3-12-14: The average price for tickets on the re-sale market is $661. The semi finals currently average $646 while the championship game commands an average asking price of $676. The all session strip has an average price of $1,125. This year's Final Four takes place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
3-11-14: Joe Lunardi's bracketology on ESPN.com has been updated to reflect the last weekend of regular season action. He currently has Florida as the 1-seed in the South, Villanova taking the top spot in the East, Arizona number 1 in the west, and the Wichita State Shockers as the number 1 seed in the Midwest.