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An inside look at the Final Four1

George Mason

ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR: Beat No. 6 seed Michigan State 75-65; beat No. 3 North Carolina 65-60; beat No. 7 Wichita State 63-55; beat No. 1 Connecticut 86-84, OT.

STARS: A team with five starters averaging between 13.7 and 11.0 points per game doesn't have a star. Six-foot-7 Jai Lewis leads in rebounding at 7.7 per game and Folarin Campbell leads in assists at 4.3 per game.

INJURIES: The Patriots have been relatively injury free this season and that has meant little playing time for the bench. Nonstarters have scored a total of 298 points -- fewer than nine a game -- all season.

COACH: Jim Larranaga was 0-2 in the NCAA tournament before the four-game run that landed George Mason in the Final Four. He is 166-104 in nine seasons at George Mason and, including his 11 seasons at Bowling Green, has a career record of 364-273.

KEY POINT: Three senior starters, solid defense and just 10 turnovers per game in the NCAA Tournament have allowed the Patriots to go on this history-making run for a mid-major program.



ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR: Beat No. 14 South Alabama 76-50; beat No. 11 Wisconsin-Milwaukee 82-60; beat No. 7 Georgetown 57-53; beat No. 1 Villanova 75-62.

STARS: Joakim Noah has turned from being known as "Yannick Noah's son" to one of best open-court big men in college basketball. Taurean Green, who had never started a college game until this season, is considered one of the top point guards in the country.

INJURIES: Corey Brewer missed two starts and parts of two other games in January with an ankle injury and Lee Humphrey missed one game and saw limited time in another in late January after injuring his left (non-shooting) shoulder in a bicycle fall.

COACH: Billy Donovan is one of six men to play and coach in a Final Four. He was a player with Providence in 1987 and he took the Gators all the way to the championship game in 2000, losing to Michigan State. He is one of 12 active coaches with more than one Final Four appearance.

KEY POINT: The Gators started the season with a 17-game winning streak and come into the Final Four having won nine straight, a span in which they have not allowed more than 71 points.



ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR: Beat No. 13 Iona 80-64; beat No. 12 Texas A&M 58-57; beat No. 1 Duke 62-54; beat No. 2 Texas 70-60, OT.

STARS: You can't miss Glen "Big Baby" Davis. The 6-9, 300-plus-pounder was the Southeastern Conference player of the year. He had a double-double in 10 of the last 15 games and has scored in double figures the last 39 games.

INJURIES: The Tigers have been playing without junior point guard Tack Minor since late December when he underwent knee surgery. Magnum Rolle hyperextended his knee in practice Thursday but is expected to play.

COACH: John Brady is in his ninth season at LSU and the Tigers didn't win a game in their previous two NCAA tournament appearances under him. He is one of the more fiery coaches in the game and TV directors love to get shots of his facial reactions.

KEY POINT: The Tigers are a tough matchup with Davis and Tyrus Thomas inside and Darrel Mitchell hitting three-pointers at a 40 percent clip. Their win over Duke was a defensive gem, holding the Blue Devils to their lowest point total since 1996.



ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR: Beat No. 15 Belmont 78-44; beat No. 10 Alabama 62-59; beat No. 3 Gonzaga 73-71; beat No. 1 Memphis 50-45.

STARS: Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo are among the country's best backcourts and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who has been emerging all season, averages 8.9 points and 8.1 rebounds.

INJURIES: It would be hard to imagine a team had more injuries this season than the Bruins. Every scholarship player has been injured at some point this season and seven missed a total of 87 games. Backup center Lorenzo Mata broke his nose in practice Wednesday and will wear a mask on Saturday.

COACH: Ben Howland has the Bruins in the Final Four in his third season. This team plays the same defensive-oriented style as his teams at Pittsburgh did when he rebuilt that program, taking it to consecutive regional semifinal appearances. He also took Northern Arizona to the NCAA tournament.

KEY POINT: The Bruins are all about defense and that was apparent when they held Memphis to 45 points in the regional final. UCLA has won 11 straight games and only one team -- Gonzaga -- managed to score more than 60 points.

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