John Clay's notes: Fun facts from the Final Four

Herald-Leader Sports ColumnistApril 2, 2014 

Random Final Four notes:

■ With the exception of Florida, which has won 30 straight games, every Final Four team had to handle a stretch of hard times.

After a 16-0 start, Wisconsin lost five of its next six games. Kentucky lost three of its last four in the regular season. Connecticut lost three of five games in one stretch.

■ Wisconsin trailed Oregon by 12 points at the half in the round of 32. Kentucky trailed Wichita State by six points at the half in the round of 32 and Louisville by three points at the half in the Sweet 16.

■ If Kentucky wins the title, John Calipari would become the 15th coach to win multiple NCAA crowns.

■ If Florida wins the title, Billy Donovan would be just the sixth coach to win more than two titles. The five who have done it: John Wooden (10), Adolph Rupp (4), Mike Krzyzewski (4), Jim Calhoun (3) and Bob Knight (3).

■ Calipari's mentor and friend, Larry Brown, was the last coach to lead an unranked team to the national title. Kansas was No. 7 in the preseason rankings before falling out of the poll by season's end. Then behind Danny Manning, the Jayhawks beat Oklahoma in the 1988 title game.

■ Villanova in 1985 is the only other unranked team to win the title.

■ Kentucky would also be the first team since Kansas to win the title with double-digit losses. Kansas was 27-11 in 1988. Villanova was 25-10 in 1985. North Carolina State was 26-10 in 1983. Kentucky is currently 28-10.

■ Both Kansas and Villanova had to beat the champions of their own conference in the finals. Kansas had lost twice to Oklahoma, then beat the Sooners in the NCAA finals. Villanova had lost to Georgetown twice, then beat the Hoyas in the NCAA finals.

Indiana beat Michigan three times in 1976, the final time in the national finals. No national champ has had to beat another team four times in one season, with the fourth being the national title game. If Kentucky and Florida meet on Monday night, that's exactly what Florida would have to do.

■ The last time Kentucky and Wisconsin played was in the 2003 Sweet 16 in Minneapolis.

The good news was Marquis Estill scored 28 points in a 63-57 Kentucky victory.

The bad news was Keith Bogans sprained his ankle. Bogans played two days later but was no match for Dwyane Wade, who led Marquette to the Final Four.

■ The last time Wisconsin made the Final Four, which was 2000, Dick Bennett's Badgers lost to Michigan State 53-41 in the national semifinals.

Bennett's slowdown style was heavily criticized in some quarters and he resigned three games into the 2000-01 season saying he was burned out.

■ It bears repeating that Kentucky has not won six games in a row all season.

■ It took Wisconsin Coach Bo Ryan 15 seasons as a Division I head coach to reach the Final Four. It took Connecticut's Kevin Ollie two.

■ By the way, the 41-year-old Ollie was born in Dallas.

■ Another fun fact: During the 1999-2000 NBA season, Larry Brown was the coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, John Calipari was his assistant and Kevin Ollie was his backup point guard.

■ Rick Pitino told ESPN's Mike and Mike that it was "cruel" of the NCAA Selection Committee to have Kentucky and Louisville meeting in the Sweet 16.

■ Calipari and Wisconsin's Ryan both grew up in Pennsylvania. The 66-year-old Ryan grew up in Chester. The 55-year-old Calipari grew up four hours away in Moon Township.

■ Three SEC teams — Florida in 2006 and 2007; Kentucky in 2012 — have won the national title since the last time a Big Ten team won it all. That was Michigan State in 2000.

■ If Aaron Rodgers shows up in the Wisconsin locker room again, as he did for the Badgers' Sweet 16 win over Baylor, then Rodgers' teammate Randall Cobb needs to show up in the Kentucky locker room.

John Clay: (859) 231-3226. Email: jclay@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @johnclayiv. Blog: johnclay.bloginky.com.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service