Slide Show: How NCAA’s Final Four punched Texas tickets

It’s Florida vs. the field

The field is set for the NCAA basketball tournament’s Final Four in Arlington, Texas, next weekend, and, while all four entrants are big, brand-name state universities, three of the four were predicted to still be playing by 5.2% or less of those who entered the MarketWatch pool on Yahoo.

In our collective defense, though, nearly half of us — reporters, editors, sources, readers and financial-markets notables — foresaw Florida, the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed, making the Final Four, with 36% of us predicting a national championship for the Gators. It would be their third title since 2006.

Wisconsin’s entry in the Final Four was the second least surprising one to our readers, with 5.2% of pool players anticipating the Badgers would be in the mix at this late stage (with 1.5% predicting a Wisconsin title), versus the 1.4% who picked Kentucky to make it to AT&T Stadium and the 0.3% who had Connecticut in their final foursomes. As to predicting that one of those two would be the last team standing a week from tonight, the respective figures slip to 0.7% and 0.2%.

Shown: Distribution of national-champion picks among MarketWatch pool participants.

School: University of Connecticut

Opponents in 2014 tournament: St. Joseph’s, Villanova, Iowa State, Michigan State

Most recent Final Four: 2011

NCAA championships: 1999, 2004, 2011

Coach, tenure, total compensation ( per USA Today ): Kevin Ollie, second season, $ 1.2 million

Endowment ( per GoLocalProv ): $ 311 million

Selected notable alumni: Meg Ryan; Judy Collins; Moby; Robert Diamond of Barclays; NBA star Ray Allen; and Atlantic Monthly editor and author Robert D. Kaplan

Shown: Lasan Kromah launches a three-point shot during UConn’s upset of Villanova.

School: University of Florida

Location: Gainesville, Fla.

Regional seed: 1st, South

Opponents in 2014 tournament: Albany, Pitt, UCLA, Dayton

Most recent Final Four: 2007

NCAA championships: 2006, 2007

Coach, tenure, total compensation ( per USA Today ): Billy Donovan, 18th season, $ 3.69 million

Selected notable alumni: Faye Dunaway; Buddy Ebsen; director Jonathan Demme; Carl Hiaasen; Olympic medalists Dara Torres and Ryan Lochte; and Robert Cade, inventor of Gatorade.

Shown: Florida coach Billy Donovan cuts down the net after the defeat of Dayton in the final of the South regional.

School: University of Kentucky

Regional seed: 8th, Midwest

Opponents in 2014 tournament: Kansas State, Wichita State, Louisville, Michigan

Most recent Final Four: 2012

NCAA championships: 1948, 1949, 1951, 1958, 1978, 1996, 1998, 2012

Coach, tenure, total compensation ( per TheBestSchools.org ): John Calipari, fifth season, $ 5.4 million

Selected notable alumni: John T. Scopes of Scopes Trial fame; “Happy” Chandler, the senator and baseball commissioner; NBA coach and executive Pat Riley; football hall of famer George Blanda; actor Harry Dean Stanton; and, of course, Ashley Judd.

Shown: Coach John Calipari waves as he leaves the court after Kentucky’s win over Michigan on Sunday.

School: University of Wisconsin

Opponents in 2014 tournament: American, Oregon, Baylor, Arizona

Most recent Final Four: 2000

Coach, tenure, total compensation ( per USA Today ): Bo Ryan, 13th season, $ 2.35 million

Selected notable alumni: Charles Lindbergh; A.C. Nielsen founder Arthur C. Nielsen; former Yahoo and Autodesk CEO Carol Bartz; Dick Cheney; Greta Van Susteren of CNN; writers Joyce Carol Oates and Eudora Welty; Hollywood notables Fredric March, Michael Mann, Don Ameche, Joan Cusack, and David and Jerry Zucker; singers Steve Miller and Boz Scaggs; celebrity chef Charlie Trotter ; sculptor Dale Chihuly; Frank Lloyd Wright; baseball commissioner Bud Selig

Shown: Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan is lifted by players after an overtime win in the final of the West regional.


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