basketball-men-d1 flag

Daniel Wilco | | April 5, 2019

The NCAA Final Four | The ultimate guide

Tom Izzo's Spartans' belief in each other key to Final Four

The NCAA men's basketball tournament has four regions: the South, East, West, and Midwest. The winner of each region advances to the penultimate round of the tournament: The Final Four. 

Here’s everything you need to know about it:

How did the Final Four get its name?

The name is pretty self-explanatory, as the Final Four refers to the last four teams standing in the NCAA tournament.

The first known use of the term to refer to the penultimate round of the NCAA tournament came in 1975 when, according to Slate, Ed Chay wrote in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that Marquette was ”one of the final four” teams of the 1974 tournament.

In 1978, the NCAA ran with the phrase, referring to it as the “Final Four,” and later registering the trademark, meaning no one else in the U.S. can use the term for their tournaments.

Best moments from the Final Four

Where is the Final Four played?

The Final Four is the final location of the NCAA tournament every year, as the semifinal and national championship games are played in the same arena. It has been held in 30 different cities throughout history. Kansas City holds the record, having hosted the Final Four nine times. In 2018, the Final Four was held in San Antonio. This year, the Final Four is at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn.

Who are the teams in the Final Four this year?

The 2019 Final Four teams are No. 2 Michigan State, No. 3 Texas Tech, No. 1 Virginia and No. 5 Auburn. Virginia, Texas Tech and Auburn would all be first-time champions. Michigan State is going for its third.

Live stream Virginia-Texas Tech here, and Auburn-Michigan State here.

Bruce Pearl trusts his players to get the job done at Final Four

How did those teams make it to the Final Four?

Michigan State advanced with a 68-67 win over Duke. Texas Tech defeated Gonzaga, 75-69. Auburn beat Kentucky 77-71 in overtime and Virginia beat Purdue in OT, 80-75. You can see the complete printable NCAA bracket here.

Who are some notable Cinderellas who’ve made it to the Final Four?

Villanova — 1985 (the 8-seed Wildcats are the lowest seed ever to win the title.)
George Mason — 2006 (11-seed George Mason received an at-large bid, then beat Michigan State, UNC, and 1-seed UConn.)
VCU — 2011 (11-seed VCU remains the only team to reach the Final Four from the First Four.)
Butler — 2011 (The 8-seed Bulldogs weren’t expected to return to the Final Four after losing Gordon Hayward, but they willed themselves back to the championship game anyways before losing to Kemba Walker and UConn.)
Loyola Chicago — 2018 (The 11-seed Ramblers made the most of their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1985 before Michigan ended the run in the semifinal.)

Chris Beard's Red Raiders are real and ready to win

Who has been to the most Final Fours?

North Carolina has been to 20 Final Fours — the most of any school. Kentucky and UCLA have both been to 17, Duke has 16, Kansas has 15, and Ohio State has 10. No other schools have double-digit appearances. 

Where will the Final Four be played in 2019?

In 2019, the Final Four will be held in Minneapolis, with semifinal games on April 6 and the national championship on April 8.

Here are the future sites and dates for the Final Four:

April 4/6, 2020 Atlanta, GA Mercedes-Benz Stadium
April 3/5, 2021 Indianapolis, IN Lucas Oil Stadium
April 2/4, 2022 New Orleans, LA Mercedes-Benz Superdome

MORE: March Madness 2019 dates and schedule

Nobody's safe after an upset-filled weekend in men's basketball

If the past weekend showed anything in college basketball, it’s that nobody is safe.

Arizona leads first men's basketball Power 36 of December

NCAA Digital's Andy Katz delivers a fresh set of Power 36 rankings after an upset-filled weekend. He also previews the new week's action with a ranking of the best games of the week.

Breakout first half shooting by Max Klesmit lifts Wisconsin over No. 3 Marquette

Wisconsin did not let No. 3 Marquette take the lead throughout regulation, led by Max Klesmit's 21 points for a massive 76-64 win over the top-3 team.

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from and our partners