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Mike Lopresti | | March 30, 2015

What's at stake for Final Four contenders

  Bo Ryan is the only Final Four coach without a championship to his name.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Scenarios, scenarios. Nobody knows what WILL happen here at the Final Four. But we know what COULD happen.

Such as:

Start with the easy one. Kentucky could become the eighth undefeated national champion in history and first in 39 years, going back to Indiana in 1976. Bob Knight was an up-and-comer with dark hair then, at 35 the fourth-youngest national championship coach in history. The hair’s not so dark anymore.

Kentucky could also become the sixth unbeaten team to lose in the Final Four, or maybe the third to lose in the title game.

And on the other side of the record spectrum, Michigan State, at 27-11, could match 1988 Kansas as the national champion with the most defeats.

Wisconsin could win its second national championship, 74 years after its first. That would be the longest span in history. For that matter, the Badgers could win their first Final Four game since eight months before Pearl Harbor.

Kentucky could win its ninth title, closing in on UCLA’s record 11.

Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski could win his fifth championship, which would push him past Adolph Rupp into second place behind John Wooden.

Then again, he could lose his fifth national championship game. He already is alone at the top of that bittersweet list.

Someone could win the national championship game by one point. That’s happened only six times in 76 years, the most recent Michigan over Seton Hall 80-79, and that was 26 years ago.

One of the semifinal games could go overtime. That hasn’t happened in 17 years.

Someone could come from way behind to win. Duke owns the biggest rally ever at the Final Four, charging from 22 points back to beat Maryland in 2001.

A national champion -- be it Michigan State or Wisconsin -- could call the Big Ten home. That’s happened once in 25 years: Michigan State in 2000.

But then, Wisconsin could advance to the title game, and that would be the sixth different Big Ten school to make it that far in 14 years.

Krzyzewski, at 68, could become the second-oldest coach to win the national championship, behind Jim Calhoun. So could Bo Ryan, at 67. Ryan would be the oldest to win his first.

A freshman -- Duke and Kentucky certainly have the prospects -- could be named most outstanding player of the Final Four. That has happened only four times.

The No. 1 team (Kentucky) could be national champion. Only four have managed it in 32 years.

Wisconsin could become the 15th school with more than one championship.

Elite Eight: Kentucky prevails against Irish
Michigan State could win the title as the No. 23 team in the AP poll. That would make the Spartans the lowest-ranked champion since unranked Kansas won 26 years ago.

Duke could play Kentucky for the third time at the Final Four. Only one matchup has happened more often, with Kansas-North Carolina meeting four times.

Someone could score a lot of points in the national championship game and still lose. Duke holds the record with 88 in 1978 -- against Kentucky, which had 94.

Two No. 1 seeds could play for the title. It seems rather odd that has happened only six times in the 36 years the tournament has been seeded.

Averaging 71.4 points, Michigan State could become the lowest-scoring national champion since Villanova in 1985. At 63.2, the Spartans could become the second-worst free-throw shooting champion in the past 42 years, ahead of only 2004 Connecticut.

The champion -- namely, Wisconsin -- could not come from the Eastern time zone. Sixteen of the past 17 have, with 2008 Kansas the lone exception.

Duke could become a five-time champion, so the Blue Devils would no longer be trailing North Carolina.

John Calipari or Tom Izzo could become the 15th coach with more than one championship.

Bo Ryan could become the 49th man to coach one.

The championship game television ratings could crack the top 25 of the highest ever. None of the others in this multi-channel century have. But it would probably take Kentucky vs. Duke to have any chance of that.  On the national buzz-o-meter, that’s Scenario No. 1.

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