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Final Four

From Academic Kids

Final Four is a sports term that is commonly applied to the last four teams remaining in a playoff tournament. The oldest, and most common, use of the term is in reference to the final four teams in the annual NCAA basketball tournament. These are the champions of the tournament's four regional brackets, and the only teams remaining on the tournament's final weekend. (The term has been applied retroactively to include the last four teams in tournaments from earlier years, when only two brackets existed.)

Currently, the men's tournament begins with 65 teams. The two teams deemed weakest by the NCAA Selection Committee play the first game (the "play-in game") in Dayton, Ohio, and the field is narrowed down to 64 teams. The women's tournament starts with 64 teams, with no play-in game. The tournament proceeds by means of single elimination play on consecutive weekends in March at preselected sites in the United States.

In the men's tournament, all sites are nominally neutral: teams are prohibited from playing tournament games on their home courts (though in some cases, a team may be fortunate enough to play in or near its home state). However, the women's sites, though chosen in advance, are not necessarily neutral; the women's tournament committee deliberately places host teams on their home floors when possible. This practice is increasingly controversial.

On the third weekend, traditionally a Saturday and Monday for the men's tournament and a Sunday and Tuesday for the women's tournament, the final four teams meet in semifinals on the first day and the championship on the second. For several years in the men's tournament, the teams eliminated in the semifinals met in a consolation game prior to the championship; this was discontinued in 1981.

See NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship and NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship for a list of NCAA champions.

Final Four Records

Final Four Single Game - Individual

  • Points
 58, Bill Bradley, Princeton vs. Wichita St., N3d, 3-20-1965
  • Points by a Freshman
 33, Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse vs. Texas, NSF, 4-5-2003
  • Field Goals
 22, Bill Bradley, Princeton vs. Wichita St., N3d, 3-20-1965
  • Field Goals Attempted
 42, Lennie Rosenbluth, North Carolina vs. Michigan St., NSF,  3-22-1957
  • Field-Goal Percentage (Min. 10 FGM)
 95.5% (21-22), Bill Walton, UCLA vs. Memphis, CH, 3-26-1973
  • Three-Point Field Goals
 10, Freddie Banks, UNLV vs. Indiana, NSF, 3-28-1987
  • Rebounds
 27, Bill Russell, San Francisco vs. Iowa, CH, 3-23-1956
  • Assists
 18, Mark Wade, UNLV vs. Indiana, NSF, 3-28-1987
  • Blocked Shots
 6, Danny Manning, Kansas vs. Duke, NSF, 4-2-1988
  • Steals
 7, Tommy Amaker, Duke vs. Louisville, CH, 3-31-1986
 7, Mookie Blaylock, Oklahoma vs. Kansas, CH, 4-4-1988
  • Final Four Triple-Doubles
  • Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati vs. Louisville, N3rd, 3-21-1959: 39 pts., 17 rebs. & 10 asts.
  • Magic Johnson, Michigan St. vs. Pennsylvania, NSF, 3-24-1979: 29 pts., 10 rebs. & 10 asts.

See also


Other Final Fours

In recent years, the term Final Four has come into use for the last four teams in other elimination tournaments. Tournaments which use Final Four include Euroleague in basketball, national basketball competitions in several European countries and now-defunct European Hockey League. Together with the name Final Four, these tournaments have adopted an NCAA-style format in which the four surviving teams compete in a single-elimination tournament held in one place, typically, during one weekend.

The derivative term "Frozen Four" is used by the NCAA to refer to the final rounds of the Division I men's and women's ice hockey tournaments.


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