Four Teams, Four Stories, One Survivor

West Virginia, led by Jerry West (44), made its last Final Four appearance in 1959.

For a while there last weekend, it looked like the NCAAs would have a fresh Final Four, comprised of four teams that had never won the tournament.

Butler and West Virginia did their part on Saturday, but then three-time champ Duke and twice-crowned Michigan State spoiled the fun.

You need to go back 20 years, to 1990, to find the last time you had four teams that had never won in a Final Four. That year in Dallas UNLV’s Runnin’ Rebels crushed Duke 103-73 to win their first and only championship. Arkansas and Georgia Tech lost in the semifinals.

And way back in 1959 was the last time that four teams — California, West Virginia, Cincinnati and Louisville — made the Final Four for the first time.

Cal won its only title that year, beating West Virginia 71-70 in the championship. The Mountaineers’ great guard Jerry West — Zeke from Cabin Creek — scored 28 points and was named the outstanding player of the tournament despite the loss.

West Virginia Returns

West Virginia is back for the first time in 51 years to try and capture that elusive title. And Jerry West’s youngest son, Jonnie West, is a reserve guard for the 2010 Mountaineers.

Michigan State has been to the Final Four eight times — six times since 1999 — and won championships in 1979 with Magic Johnson and 2000.

The Spartans went to their first Final Four in 1957, when they lost to eventual champion North Carolina in three overtimes in the semifinals. The Tar Heels beat Wilt Chamberlain’s Kansas team in another triple overtime game the following night for their first championship.

Duke has been to the Final Four 14 times, winning it all in 1991, 1992 and 2001. The Blue Devils made their first appearance in the Final Four in 1964, Despite a height advantage, Duke lost in the finals to coach John Wooden and his UCLA Bruins, who finished 30-0 and won the first of Wooden’s 10 championships.

Butler has never been to the Final Four, but the Bobcats don’t have to travel far to get there, just 6.2 miles to Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, according to Google maps.


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