Spartans, Blue Devils, Wildcats, Terrapins in Final Four: Oh my!

Posted: Monday, March 26, 2001

Michigan State, the defending champion, and Arizona won Sunday to reach the Final Four along with Duke and Maryland, Atlantic Coast Conference rivals who will meet for the fourth time this season.

Duke, ranked No. 1 in the final regular-season Associated Press poll, was installed by Las Vegas oddsmakers as even-money favorites to win the championship. Michigan State was next at 3-1.

Michigan State (28-4) will play Arizona (27-7) in the opening semifinal Saturday at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, followed by Duke (33-4) against Maryland (25-10). The championship game is Monday night.

Michigan State became just the third school since 1985 -- and ninth ever -- to reach the national semifinals three years in a row.

''To be in three straight Final Fours says something about consistency,'' coach Tom Izzo said after the Spartans held off Temple 69-62 to win the NCAA South Regional.

''Is our program looked at the same way as Kentucky and Duke and North Carolina? Maybe not. But we're trying to get there.''

Michigan State is trying to become the first school to win consecutive NCAA titles since Duke in 1991-92.

Arizona, the 1997 national champion, beat Illinois 87-81 in the Midwest Regional final.

While Duke is in its 13th Final Four, Maryland heads to its first.

Duke beat Southern California 79-69 Saturday in the East Regional final. Maryland upset Stanford 87-73 in the West.

The teams squared off twice in the regular season and again in the ACC conference tournament. Duke won twice, each time by two points, and Maryland won the middle game by 11.

In the first meeting, at Maryland on Jan. 27, the Terrapins blew a 10-point lead in the last minute of regulation and lost in overtime.

Arizona Wildcats (27-7)

Coach: Lute Olson.

Region: Midwest.

Seed: No. 2.

Tournament record: 31-18, 20 years.

Conference: Pacific-10.

Top scorers: Gilbert Arenas 16.5; Michael Wright 15.8; Loren Woods 13.0; Richard Jefferson 10.9; Jason Gardner 10.7.

Top rebounders: Michael Wright 7.9; Loren Woods 6.3; Richard Jefferson 5.3.

Top assists: Jason Gardner 4.2; Luke Walton 3.2; Richard Jefferson 2.7; Gilbert Arenas 2.1.

3-point threats: Jason Gardner 73; Gilbert Arenas 68.

The Wildcats have won 10 straight games and 19 of 21.

Duke Blue Devils (33-4)

Coach: Mike Krzyzewski.

Region: East.

Seed: No. 1.

Tournament record: 71-22, 25 years.

Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference.

Top scorers: Jason Williams 21.7; Shane Battier 19.9; Carlos Boozer 13.1; Nate James 12.6; Mike Dunleavy 12.6.

Top rebounders: Shane Battier 7.2; Carlos Boozer 6.4; Mike Dunleavy 5.8; Nate James 5.1.

Top assists: Jason Williams 6.2; Chris Duhon 4.4; Mike Dunleavy 2.7.

3-point threats: Jason Williams 129; Shane Battier 119; Mike Dunleavy 52; Nate James 42; Chris Duhon 42.

Williams (115 points) and Battier (92) are the tournament's top two scorers.

Maryland Terrapins (25-10)

Coach: Gary Williams.

Region: West.

Seed: No. 3.

Tournament record: 26-17, 18 years.

Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference.

Top scorers: Juan Dixon 18.1; Lonny Baxter 15.7; Terence Morris 12.3; Byron Mouton 9.6.

Top rebounders: Lonny Baxter 7.9; Terence Morris 7.7; Juan Dixon 4.1.

Top assists: Steve Blake 6.9; Juan Dixon 2.4; Drew Nicholas 2.4; Danny Miller 2.1.

3-point threats: Juan Dixon 58; Steve Blake 35; Drew Nicholas 34.

The Terps reached the Final Four for the first time in 18 tournament appearances.

Michigan State Spartans (28-4)

Nickname: Spartans.

Coach: Tom Izzo.

Region: South.

Seed: No. 1.

Tournament record: 33-13, 15 years.

Conference: Big Ten.

Top scorers: Jason Richardson 15.0; Charlie Bell 13.8; Andre Hutson 13.6; Zach Randolph 10.8.

Top rebounders: Andre Hutson 7.7; Zach Randolph 6.8; Jason Richardson 5.9; David Thomas 4.7; Charlie Bell 4.5.

Top assists: Charlie Bell 5.2; Marcus Taylor 3.6; Jason Richardson 2.2.

3-point threats: Charlie Bell 52; Jason Richardson 48.

The Spartans join Kentuckyand Duke as the only schools to reach the Final Four at least three years in a row since 1985, the year the field expanded to 64.

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