NCAA Basketball Teams Reach Final Four

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The stage for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament’s Final Four in Arizona is set after games at regional sites across the country determined who would advance over the weekend.

Defending national champion UConn, Alabama, Purdue, and North Carolina State will head to Glendale on Saturday to determine who will play for the 2024 National Championship.

UConn, the tournament’s No.1 overall seed, came out on top in a rematch of last year’s national championship game against San Diego State and cruised to a 77-52 victory over No.3-seed Illinois behind a 30-0 run that blew open a 23-23 game to win the East Regional in Boston. The Huskies have looked unbeatable throughout the tournament and have won their last 10 March Madness games by at least 13 points, dating back to last season.

“I just think [the Big East] prepares us for nonconference games,” UConn head coach Dan Hurley told the media after Saturday’s win. “… You’re going against beasts and monsters every night in the Big East, and the Big East prepared us for teams like Illinois.”

No.4-seed Alabama rallied from an early 13-point first-half deficit against No.6-seed Clemson thanks to its superb three-point shooting. The Crimson Tide made 15 three-pointers, with 12 coming from guard Marc Sears and forward Jarin Stevenson, on their way to winning the West Regional in Los Angeles and making their first-ever Final Four appearance.

A year after becoming the second No.1 seed to lose to a No.16 seed, Purdue has reached the Final Four, overpowering No.5-seed Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 on Friday and outlasting No.2-seed Tennessee in a great game in Detroit as Zach Edey dropped a career-high 40 points.

North Carolina State continued its improbable run in Dallas with wins over No.2-seed Marquette and No.4-seed Duke to win its ninth consecutive game and reach the Final Four for the first time since winning the national championship in 1983. Forward DJ Burns was named the South Regional’s Most Outstanding Player after putting up 29 points against the Blue Devils on Sunday.

“It means a lot,” NC State head coach Kevin Keatts told the media during a postgame press conference. “Our school deserves it. Our players have really worked hard. The fans deserve it. We’ve done a really good job. When I say we, I always say we. I mean, these young men in the locker room, through all the adversity that we went through, up and downs of winning games and losing games. They never lost their faith and stayed together. It means a lot. It really does.”

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