Men's Final Four: Villanova, N.C., Conn., Mich.
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Our sports commentator John Feinstein is with us once again.
John, Good morning.
JOHN FEINSTEIN: Good morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: And he's with us to talk about the NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four, which is now set - North Carolina against Villanova in one game, Connecticut against Michigan State in the other, John. And I can't help but smile thinking about Michigan State in this given year being in the Final Four, which will be in Detroit.
FEINSTEIN: Well, I think a lot of people are smiling, Steve. And Tom Izzo, Michigan State's coach, made reference to what's gone on in Detroit in the last year and how he's hoping that his team's going to provide some light and some happiness for people in the state of Michigan by getting there - somewhat a surprise, upsetting Louisville yesterday to do it. But Michigan State's campus is only 90 miles from Detroit, and they will certainly be the home team and the emotional favorite for this Final Four.
INSKEEP: What have they got going for them that got them past Louisville?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I think it starts with Izzo. This is his fifth Final Four. And they're a team that hasn't been healthy most of the year. Goran Suton, who had 17 points in the first half yesterday, has been on and off the court. They really didn't have their whole team together - Kalin Lucas, the Big Ten player of the year missed some time - until February. And now they're playing their best basketball at the right time.
INSKEEP: And Connecticut pretty strong as well.
FEINSTEIN: Connecticut has been dominant throughout the tournament. They have not been in danger in any of their four games. This'll be Jim Calhoun's third Final Four as their coach. He's won two national championships. He's never lost a game coaching in the Final Four. So they're certainly dangerous on the court right now.
INSKEEP: And I have to tell you, John. I did not get a chance to tune into basketball on Saturday, and then spent all of Sunday meeting people who said: Did you see that Villanova game? Did you see that last second shot? Did you see that amazing shot at the end of that game?
FEINSTEIN: Well, I was fortunate to be right there courtside, because that was by far the best game of the tournament and the weekend. We haven't had a lot of great finishes. But Scotty Reynolds of Villanova went the length of the court in a tie game with under five seconds to go, scored with half a second to go to get Villanova to the Final Four for the first time since 1985. And it was a neat sight, Steve, seeing Jay Wright, the Villanova coach running into the stands to hug his old coach Rollie Massimino, who coached that 1985 team.
INSKEEP: Oh, rather than the fans racing out onto the court, you had the coach racing into the stands.
FEINSTEIN: Exactly. And his perfect suit even moved about a half an inch.
INSKEEP: Now, each of these coaches has a pretty compelling story - each of these four coaches - as you've been suggesting here.
FEINSTEIN: Yeah, no question about it. Roy Williams, of course, of North Carolina is in his seventh Final Four. Three of these four coaches have won national championships - Williams, Izzo and Calhoun. Jay Wright, we just mentioned, first Final Four ever. Calhoun's got a shadow over him, though, because there's an investigation going on into their recruitment of a player who's not even on the Connecticut team this year, Steve. But it could be trouble for a Hall of Fame coach if the allegations prove true.
INSKEEP: Is that something where if Connecticut were to win the championship, they could go back and revisit that if there's some trouble?
FEINSTEIN: No. They would not be affected, because he never played in a game. He was thrown out of school in October and never played a game for Connecticut. So the penalties would be going forward, not backward, if there are penalties.
INSKEEP: Just so I know, what was the supposed violation - the alleged violation, we should say.
FEINSTEIN: Oh, it's a long list, including contact by an agent who was a manager at Connecticut, and therefore he wasn't allowed to contact the recruit. And they have all sorts of text messages and things like that on the record. So it doesn't look great.
INSKEEP: Okay. John, thanks very much.
FEINSTEIN: Thanks, Steve.
INSKEEP: The comments of John Feinstein, author of "Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery."
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