NCAA Tournament 2001 - null


Michigan State joined Kentucky and Houston as teams to go to three straight Final Fours since UCLA went to 10 straight Final Fours. Only Duke has been to more in a row (5) from 1988-92.

Spartans play up
to high standards

Yes, the same Michigan State which lost in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals is going back to the Final Four. But it took some harsh words from Tom Izzo and senior leadership to get the Spartans to Minneapolis.
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Another Frustrating Final
Mike Mardesich & LaRon Cephas
John Chaney, never one to hide his emotions, lets his players know how he's feeling late in the second half Sunday.

Question of the Day
How did Michigan State and Arizona reach the Final Four?'s Andy Katz
Michigan State got to the Final Four by getting its intensity back. The Spartans lost their drive and focus at times this season. They hit a low point when they lost to Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals. But in the NCAA Tournament, the Spartans' defense got back to being in-your-face on the perimeter and grinding inside. Charlie Bell and Andre Hutson were leaders again and willed this team through the first four games the way Mateen Cleaves and Mo Peterson did a year ago. Arizona got to the Final Four by playing unselfish basketball. The Wildcats got leadership from Loren Woods, something that was missing earlier in the season. The Wildcats also played inspired defense in this tournament, especially against Ole Miss, to get to the Elite Eight. But in the end Sunday, it came back down to the guard-play of Jason Gardner and Gilbert Arenas to get them to the Final Four. They relied on those two earlier in the year and they came through in the final game to get them to the Final Four. Having more passion and purpose, something Michigan State got from within too, helped will the Wildcats to Minneapolis.

ESPN's Dick Vitale
For the Spartans, senior leadership and maybe the deepest bench in college basketball carried them into the Final Four. David Thomas was the hero Sunday, but their bench has been there all year with Diaper Dandies Zach Randolph and Marcus Taylor. Then there was Charlie Bell, who did a great job on both ends of the court. Throw in Andre Hutson and the Spartans had the experience and depth to get back to the Final Four. Arizona advanced to Minneapolis thanks to great guard play from Gilbert Arenas and Jason Gardner throughout the tournament. Loren Woods and the rest of the Wildcats came through with great defense, blocking shots, while hitting clutch free throws.

ESPN's Jay Bilas
Michigan State defended and rebounded in this tournament the way they have all season long. Sunday, for instance, the Spartans forced Temple to take one challenged shot per possession. All year that has made for an effective transition game with easy baskets at the other end. Arizona is guarding people better than they have all season. The Wildcats are very potent scorers, but what makes them special is their athleticism when they apply it to defense. Jason Gardner has been getting great pressure on the ball and he's keeping it out of operating areas, pushing offenses farther out away from the basket. Loren Woods is blocking shots and being more active than he has been all season. They're guarding at every position. With their athletic skills, if they give a great defensive effort they will be in a position to win against anyone.

Sunday's Storylines
PLAYER OF DAY..............................
David Thomas. Not to be confused with the burger dude, this Dave Thomas scored a career-high 19 points to lead the Spartans back to the Final Four. Thomas hit 8 of 10 shots and his 3-point with a minute to go was huge.
RANDOM THOUGHTS.............................
  • Michigan State is the fifth defending champion to go back to the Final Four the next year since 1990. Kentucky (1997) and Arkansas (1994) both reached the title game the season after winning national championships. Duke won back-to-back titles in 1991 and '92, while UNLV lost to Duke in the '91 semifinals after winning it all in 1990.
  • We all knew the third meeting between Arizona and Illinois was going to be a slugfest. But instead of bells ending rounds, whistles interrupted play all night. A total of 56 fouls were called; six Illini players fouled out; 81 free throws were taken; and 63 of 168 points were scored from the charity stripe. Arizona made 43 of a NCAA Tournament-record 56 free throws (76.8%).
  • Michigan State is just the ninth team to win at least 10 straight NCAA Tournament games. The Spartans are tied with Georgetown (1984-85) and UNLV (1990-91) for seventh on the all-time list. UCLA holds the record with 38 wins from 1964-74, winning nine national titles during its tourney dominance.
  • Michael Wright didn't attempt a shot in Arizona's victory. Not one. He was fouled twice shooting, made all four free throws, but entered the game averaging 13.7 ppg. But he did get the last laugh. Not against Illinois so much, as the Illini's trio of Sergio McClain, Marcus Griffin and Frank Williams -- who annually beat his Farragut Academy team while playing for Peoria Manuel.
    STOCK RISING.....................................
    Minneapolis. One question: Will anyone care about Opening Day in Minnesota? On the same day of the national championship, the Twins will be in Detroit. Tickets to the Final Four? Forget about it. Tickets to the Twins home opener? Plenty of good seats still available.
    STOCK FALLING..................................
    No. 1 Seeds. Four came into the weekend, only two survived. Not bad. But not great, either.
    HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU................
    While others in the tourney have tried to imitate "Old School", Eugene Edgerson is straight out of the '70s -- right down to his replica Chuck Taylors. This guy would fit right in with Dr. Jack's Buffalo Braves, or any ABA squad of the same era. Hair, 'chops, knee pads, socks, shoes ... it all works for Double E.

    Yes, the Owls lost on Sunday. But getting to the South Region final busted more brackets than any other team. So, for that we salute John Chaney's boys. Temple was a couple Greer 3-pointers and two FTs from the Final Four -- somethng only 0.06% of Tournament Challege participants thought could ever happen.

    SportsCenter anchor Jim Frazier is the Big Man on Campus, picking four Final Four teams. His 1030 points lead the way in ESPN's featured group in the Tournament Challenge. Check it out at Bristol University's Best.

    "I'm experiencing an extreme high and an extreme low. I'm certainly feeling low because I couldn't get these kids to the Final Four, but at the same time I am high because they got me this far. One missed rebound, one missed ball and it could have been different."

    Temple head coach John Chaney after his team's South Region final loss to Michigan State


    Emotional Chaney says he will return to coach Temple next year

    Graney: Desperate measures for Terps

    Full-Court Press: Saturday, March 24

    Full-Court Press: Friday, March 23

    Full-Court Press: Thursday, March 22

    Full-Court Press: Sunday, March 18

    Full-Court Press: Saturday, March 17

    Full-Court Press: Friday, March 16

    Full-Court Press: Thursday, March 15

     An excited Loren Woods isn't ready to celebrate just yet (Courtesy: NCAA Productions).
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     Coach Lute Olson credits his team for hanging together throughout the season (Courtesy: NCAA Productions).
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     Temple coach John Chaney had mixed emotions after the loss (Courtesy: NCAA Productions).
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     Coach Gary Williams previews Maryland's match-up with a familiar foe -- Duke.
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