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.