A look back at some of the best blueblood Final Fours


By NOAH TRISTER - AP Sports Writer



Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski celebrates while cutting down the net after Duke defeated Arkansas in a college basketball game in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA men's tournament in San Francisco, Saturday, March 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski celebrates while cutting down the net after Duke defeated Arkansas in a college basketball game in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA men's tournament in San Francisco, Saturday, March 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)


North Carolina's Armando Bacot, left, and Brady Manek celebrate after North Carolina won a college basketball game against St. Peter's in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA tournament, Sunday, March 27, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)


Kansas head coach Bill Self smiles with Jalen Wilson during the second half of a college basketball game in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA tournament Sunday, March 27, 2022, in Chicago. Kansas won 76-50 to advance to the Final Four. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)


What you need to know about each team in the Final Four

By STEVE MEGARGEE

AP Sports Writer

There’s no room for a surprise team at this Final Four.

Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and Villanova have combined for 17 national championships. Each of the schools has won at least three titles, making this the first Final Four in which each of the teams already had won multiple championships.

The closest thing to a Final Four party crasher is North Carolina, which was seeded eighth in the South Region but has won 10 of its last 11 games.

Those aren’t the only impressive numbers involving the four tradition-rich programs remaining in the NCAA Tournament. Here are a few things to know about each of the teams in the Final Four:

DUKE

COACH K’s FINALE: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is making his 13th Final Four appearance to move into sole possession of first place (former UCLA coach John Wooden also had 12). Krzyzewski also has made more NCAA Tournament appearances (36) and won more NCAA Tournament games (101) than any other coach.

ON THE MARK: Mark Williams has blocked 16 shots in Duke’s first games, which matches the most by any Duke player in a single NCAA Tournament. Shane Battier had 16 in 2001 when Duke won the title. Williams also is shooting 80.6% from the floor, which puts him on pace to have the highest field-goal percentage in a single NCAA Tournament of any Duke player with at least 25 attempts. Williams’ accuracy has helped Duke shoot 53.8% in the tournament, the best field-goal percentage of anyone in the original 68-team field.

WATCH OUT FOR GRIFFIN: A.J. Griffin has been the barometer for Duke’s level of success against semifinal opponent North Carolina this season. He scored 27 points in Duke’s 87-67 victory at North Carolina on Feb. 5 but had just five points in 34 minutes when the Blue Devils fell 94-81 to the Tar Heels at home a month later.

NORTH CAROLINA

FAMILIAR FINISH: This is North Carolina’s NCAA-leading 21st appearance in the Final Four. The Tar Heels also lead all schools with 130 victories in NCAA Tournament games.

SELECT COMPANY: North Carolina coach Hubert Davis is one of only two people to play and coach in the Final Four with the same school. Davis was on the 1991 North Carolina team that lost an NCAA semifinal to Kansas. The only other person to make a Final Four as a player and coach at the same school was Dick Harp, who played (1940) and coached (1957) NCAA runner-up teams with Kansas. Davis also was an assistant coach on Roy Williams’ staff when North Carolina reached an NCAA final in 2016 and won the title in 2017.

MANEK VS. DEVILS: Brady Manek scored at least 20 points in each of North Carolina’s previous two meetings with Duke this season. He had 21 points when the Tar Heels lost to Duke at home. He had 20 points and 11 rebounds when North Carolina won at Duke. Manek has scored 86 points in this NCAA Tournament, the most of any player.

KANSAS

GETTING STINGY: The Jayhawks are allowing tournament foes to shoot just 34.1%. That’s the best NCAA Tournament field-goal percentage defense of any team in the original 68-team field.

MORE WINS THAN ANYONE: Kansas’ Midwest Region final triumph over Miami gave the Jayhawks 2,355 all-time victories. That enabled Kansas to take the Division I lead over Kentucky, a first-round loser that ended its season with 2,354 all-time wins.

UNDER 70: Kansas has held eight of its last nine opponents below 70 points. The Jayhawks are 24-0 this season when they allow fewer than 70 points. The only team to crack 70 points against Kansas during this tournament was Creighton, which lost 79-72 to the Jayhawks in the second round. Kansas’ semifinal opponent is Villanova, which has won nine straight but has reached the 70-point mark in just two of its last seven games.

VILLANOVA

NO MOORE: Justin Moore leads Villanova in minutes per game (34.4), ranks second on the team in scoring (14.8), 3-pointers (80) and assists per game (2.3) and ranks third in rebounds per game (4.8). Villanova will have to play the Final Four without Moore, who tore his right Achilles tendon in a 50-44 South Region final victory over Houston.

SAMUELS’ SURGE: Jermaine Samuels has averaged 17.5 points in the tournament and has scored at least 15 points in each game. Samuels entered the tournament averaging just 10.4.

COLD BUT POISED: Villanova has shot 27.5% from 3-point range (14 of 51) over its last two games but still reached the Final Four. The Wildcats were 9 of 30 on 3-point attempts against Michigan and 5 of 21 against Houston. They’ve shot 30% or below from 3-point range in 13 games this season but have gone 9-4 in those contests.

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This year’s Final Four is either unprecedented or pretty close.

In one corner, North Carolina is making a record 21st appearance in the Final Four. Its semifinal opponent, Duke, is waiting with the sport’s winningest coach. Mike Krzyzewski surpassed 1,200 victories during this postseason run.

Kansas arrives having recently taken over the Division I lead in all-time wins. Villanova doesn’t have quite the storied history of the other three schools, but the Wildcats are now trying for their third national title in seven years. Only UCLA under John Wooden and Kentucky under Adolph Rupp have won three in that short a time span.

So the quartet of programs in this year’s Final Four is truly special. Only a few others can really compare:

1968 (HOUSTON, NORTH CAROLINA, OHIO STATE, UCLA)

Two of these programs aren’t considered bluebloods now. In fact, Houston was a stretch even then — but the Elvin Hayes-led Cougars were making their second straight Final Four appearance, and their semifinal matchup with UCLA was a rematch of Houston’s famous win over the Bruins earlier that year at the Astrodome. The teams had also met in the previous year’s Final Four, with UCLA winning.

The Bruins beat the Cougars in this Final Four as well, then defeated Dean Smith and North Carolina in the title game. Ohio State, meanwhile, was making its eighth Final Four appearance in the first 30 years of the tournament.

1991 (DUKE, KANSAS, NORTH CAROLINA, UNLV)

Duke, Kansas and North Carolina need no introduction as traditional powers — and UNLV was the sport’s dominant team at this point, with a national championship in 1990 and an undefeated record coming into the ‘91 Final Four.

It was actually Duke — making its fifth Final Four appearance in six years — that was still chasing its first title and trying to shed a label of a team that hadn’t won the big one. The Blue Devils did it, knocking off UNLV and then Kansas.

1993 (KANSAS, KENTUCKY, NORTH CAROLINA, MICHIGAN)

Talk about bluebloods — these schools all wear varying shades of the color. This was the 11th Final Four appearance for North Carolina and the 10th each for Kansas and Kentucky.

But it was Michigan — appearing in its sixth Final Four — that had the most recent title of this bunch, having won it all in 1989. A win over Kentucky in ‘93 gave the Fab Five its second straight appearance in the title game. The Wolverines then lost a heartbreaker to North Carolina.

2008 (KANSAS, MEMPHIS, NORTH CAROLINA, UCLA)

This was the only men’s Final Four to date featuring four No. 1 seeds, and Kansas, North Carolina and UCLA are unquestioned basketball royalty. Memphis isn’t at that level, but this John Calipari-coached group — which included future No. 1 draft pick Derrick Rose — had lost only one game all season before falling in the title game to Kansas in overtime.

2012 (KANSAS, KENTUCKY, LOUISVILLE, OHIO STATE)

This Final Four had some similarities to this year’s, with in-state rivals Kentucky and Louisville meeting in a titanic semifinal matchup. Louisville was making its ninth Final Four appearance — and that was the fewest of the bunch. Kentucky ultimately won the championship with a victory over Kansas.

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Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski celebrates while cutting down the net after Duke defeated Arkansas in a college basketball game in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA men’s tournament in San Francisco, Saturday, March 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/03/web1_128494043-52aeb279b1594de79dc0b2a68d6fbd52.jpgDuke head coach Mike Krzyzewski celebrates while cutting down the net after Duke defeated Arkansas in a college basketball game in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA men’s tournament in San Francisco, Saturday, March 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

North Carolina’s Armando Bacot, left, and Brady Manek celebrate after North Carolina won a college basketball game against St. Peter’s in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA tournament, Sunday, March 27, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/03/web1_128494043-565b8e808a984b90b83b48a0b20efe01.jpgNorth Carolina’s Armando Bacot, left, and Brady Manek celebrate after North Carolina won a college basketball game against St. Peter’s in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA tournament, Sunday, March 27, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Kansas head coach Bill Self smiles with Jalen Wilson during the second half of a college basketball game in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA tournament Sunday, March 27, 2022, in Chicago. Kansas won 76-50 to advance to the Final Four. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/03/web1_128494043-12fd604b4a644ca8b02346896781161e.jpgKansas head coach Bill Self smiles with Jalen Wilson during the second half of a college basketball game in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA tournament Sunday, March 27, 2022, in Chicago. Kansas won 76-50 to advance to the Final Four. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

By NOAH TRISTER

AP Sports Writer

What you need to know about each team in the Final Four

By STEVE MEGARGEE

AP Sports Writer

There’s no room for a surprise team at this Final Four.

Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and Villanova have combined for 17 national championships. Each of the schools has won at least three titles, making this the first Final Four in which each of the teams already had won multiple championships.

The closest thing to a Final Four party crasher is North Carolina, which was seeded eighth in the South Region but has won 10 of its last 11 games.

Those aren’t the only impressive numbers involving the four tradition-rich programs remaining in the NCAA Tournament. Here are a few things to know about each of the teams in the Final Four:

DUKE

COACH K’s FINALE: Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski is making his 13th Final Four appearance to move into sole possession of first place (former UCLA coach John Wooden also had 12). Krzyzewski also has made more NCAA Tournament appearances (36) and won more NCAA Tournament games (101) than any other coach.

ON THE MARK: Mark Williams has blocked 16 shots in Duke’s first games, which matches the most by any Duke player in a single NCAA Tournament. Shane Battier had 16 in 2001 when Duke won the title. Williams also is shooting 80.6% from the floor, which puts him on pace to have the highest field-goal percentage in a single NCAA Tournament of any Duke player with at least 25 attempts. Williams’ accuracy has helped Duke shoot 53.8% in the tournament, the best field-goal percentage of anyone in the original 68-team field.

WATCH OUT FOR GRIFFIN: A.J. Griffin has been the barometer for Duke’s level of success against semifinal opponent North Carolina this season. He scored 27 points in Duke’s 87-67 victory at North Carolina on Feb. 5 but had just five points in 34 minutes when the Blue Devils fell 94-81 to the Tar Heels at home a month later.

NORTH CAROLINA

FAMILIAR FINISH: This is North Carolina’s NCAA-leading 21st appearance in the Final Four. The Tar Heels also lead all schools with 130 victories in NCAA Tournament games.

SELECT COMPANY: North Carolina coach Hubert Davis is one of only two people to play and coach in the Final Four with the same school. Davis was on the 1991 North Carolina team that lost an NCAA semifinal to Kansas. The only other person to make a Final Four as a player and coach at the same school was Dick Harp, who played (1940) and coached (1957) NCAA runner-up teams with Kansas. Davis also was an assistant coach on Roy Williams’ staff when North Carolina reached an NCAA final in 2016 and won the title in 2017.

MANEK VS. DEVILS: Brady Manek scored at least 20 points in each of North Carolina’s previous two meetings with Duke this season. He had 21 points when the Tar Heels lost to Duke at home. He had 20 points and 11 rebounds when North Carolina won at Duke. Manek has scored 86 points in this NCAA Tournament, the most of any player.

KANSAS

GETTING STINGY: The Jayhawks are allowing tournament foes to shoot just 34.1%. That’s the best NCAA Tournament field-goal percentage defense of any team in the original 68-team field.

MORE WINS THAN ANYONE: Kansas’ Midwest Region final triumph over Miami gave the Jayhawks 2,355 all-time victories. That enabled Kansas to take the Division I lead over Kentucky, a first-round loser that ended its season with 2,354 all-time wins.

UNDER 70: Kansas has held eight of its last nine opponents below 70 points. The Jayhawks are 24-0 this season when they allow fewer than 70 points. The only team to crack 70 points against Kansas during this tournament was Creighton, which lost 79-72 to the Jayhawks in the second round. Kansas’ semifinal opponent is Villanova, which has won nine straight but has reached the 70-point mark in just two of its last seven games.

VILLANOVA

NO MOORE: Justin Moore leads Villanova in minutes per game (34.4), ranks second on the team in scoring (14.8), 3-pointers (80) and assists per game (2.3) and ranks third in rebounds per game (4.8). Villanova will have to play the Final Four without Moore, who tore his right Achilles tendon in a 50-44 South Region final victory over Houston.

SAMUELS’ SURGE: Jermaine Samuels has averaged 17.5 points in the tournament and has scored at least 15 points in each game. Samuels entered the tournament averaging just 10.4.

COLD BUT POISED: Villanova has shot 27.5% from 3-point range (14 of 51) over its last two games but still reached the Final Four. The Wildcats were 9 of 30 on 3-point attempts against Michigan and 5 of 21 against Houston. They’ve shot 30% or below from 3-point range in 13 games this season but have gone 9-4 in those contests.

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More AP coverage of March Madness: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25