Who Will Prevail at the Final Four?
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Okay, we're set for the men's basketball final four. Next Saturday in Atlanta, Georgetown will take on Ohio State. UCLA will play the defending champion Florida in a rematch of last year's national championship game. Commentator John Feinstein joins us now, as he so often does at the time of year. John, good morning.
JOHN FEINSTEIN: Morning, Steve.
INSKEEP: North Carolina will not be in the Final Four.
FEINSTEIN: You remember 25 years ago they played in a championship game, and that was when Michael Jordan first emerged as a star, hitting the winning shot before the infamous Fred Brown pass to the wrong team. So whenever Carolina and Georgetown get together it's a great game. And I think a lot of people, though, are surprised that this Georgetown team has come from the depths three years ago, when they weren't even in their conference tournament, to now being in the final four.
INSKEEP: Well, you mentioned that other great game was 25 years ago. What has happened in the intervening years at Georgetown?
FEINSTEIN: Well, back then they had a coach named John Thompson and a player named Patrick Ewing. Patrick Ewing graduated in '85, John Thompson retired in '99. The program spiraled, but now they have John Thompson and Patrick Ewing back, only it's the sons. John Thompson III is the coach and Patrick Ewing, Jr. is on the team as a key sub, and they're back in the final four. So maybe the key is Thompson and Ewing. But clearly the key is John Thompson III taking over as the coach three years ago and rebuilding the program.
INSKEEP: So Georgetown a bit of a surprise in the final four. Ohio State not a surprise, although they didn't have an easy time getting there.
FEINSTEIN: First time since '99 they've been there. But it's been since 1960 since they won a national championship, when one of their players was Bob Knight. That's how long ago it's been.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
INSKEEP: Well, Florida hasn't won a national championship since 2006.
FEINSTEIN: Well, all the starters for Florida came back and they're back in the final four. And they'll play UCLA, as you mentioned, in a rematch of last year's championship game on Saturday. And that should be a great game.
INSKEEP: How often do you have back-to-back years where you've got rematches like this in the final four?
FEINSTEIN: Very rarely happens. But here's an interesting note for you on it. The last time this happened, Steve, was 1991 when Duke played Nevada-Las Vegas. Vegas won the 1990 championship game against Duke by a record 30 points. The next year, Duke came back and beat them. Last year, Florida beat UCLA very easily and this year they're playing again. So maybe Florida should beware.
INSKEEP: I imagine UCLA has been studying the tapes of that game ever since.
FEINSTEIN: To see what they did wrong. And that's what Duke did against Vegas. Mike Krzyzewski made his team look at the tape even though it was painful, and he said that was one of the reasons they won that game 16 years ago.
INSKEEP: John, good talking with you.
FEINSTEIN: Thanks, Steve.
INSKEEP: The comments of John Feinstein, author of "Last Dance: Behind the Scenes at the Final Four."
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