Vitale: Title's up for grabs at Final Four

Vitale: PTPers from Sweet 16, Elite Eight

Kirkpatrick: Family matters

Dan Patrick: Lute endures Final Four without Bobbi

Dan Patrick: Battier a man out of time

Vitale: Expect Duke to cut down the nets

2001 NCAA Tournament Special Section

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Heavyweights to scrap in Minneapolis


Wow, the Final Four in Minneapolis will be something special as four heavyweights will battle to cut down the nets.

Andre Hutson
Andre Hutson's leadership has helped MSU get back to the Final Four.
There will be plenty of drama and lots of great story lines with these four teams. There are experienced coaches who have been there before in Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo and Lute Olson -- all three have championship rings. Then there is a fighter, a scrapper in Gary Williams, making his first trip to the Final Four.

Duke and Maryland will meet for a fourth time. The first game featured an unbelievable comeback by the Blue Devils, rallying from 10 down with under a minute left. Maryland won at Cameron Indoor Stadium, beating Duke on Senior Night. Then the third showdown in the ACC tournament semifinals was incredible, with the Blue Devils pulling out the W in a contest that went down to the final shot.

The fourth meeting should be something special. Krzyzewski and Williams are fierce competitors between the lines. Both guys will get in your face, get in their players' faces, and they want this so badly. Williams goes nuts when talking about the Final Four and having this happen for his program. What a thrill it is for him!

Remember when Maryland was 15-9 and some fans were chanting "N-I-T, N-I-T"? Where are those fans now?

The Spartans are the first team to go to three straight Final Fours since Kentucky turned the trick from 1996-98.
Arizona also got off to a slow start. It has been a tough season, with the death of Lute Olson's wife, Bobbi, plus suspensions to Loren Woods and Richard Jefferson.

The bottom line is this: Arizona fought off adversity and made it to Minneapolis.

Can Shane Battier complete his career with a national championship? That's the only thing missing from his tremendous resumé, baby! Battier and Jason Williams form the best 1-2 punch in America.

Michigan State wants to be the first team to win back-to-back championships since Duke did it 1991 and '92. The Spartans are the first team to go to three straight Final Fours since Kentucky turned the trick from 1996-98.

Give Tom Izzo credit for getting this team back to the Final Four. How many teams could lose a Mateen Cleaves and a Morris Peterson and accomplish this feat?

I'm looking forward to breaking the games down this week. And I can't wait to be there for the drama of this Final Four, with more than 40,000 people cheering and yelling for their teams. Minneapolis should be a great city for this excitement, baby!

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