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Wayne Staats | | March 31, 2023

23 numbers to know from a very unusual Final Four

These are the best moments from Sunday's Elite Eight

HOUSTON — A very strange men's NCAA tournament concludes in Houston after a March of historic upsets and unlikely advancers.

As Florida Atlantic, Miami (Fla.), San Diego State and UConn get set to compete for a title, here are some numbers to know from an unlikely semifinal grouping.

0 — How many No. 5 or No. 9 seeds have ever won the title. San Diego State and Miami come in with a 5, while Florida Atlantic is a 9. Only 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8 seeds won a championship

The Owls keep the dream run alive against Kansas State

1 — This is the first Final Four ever without any No. 1, 2 or 3 seeds

1.18 — The percent of Men's Bracket Challenge Game entries that had San Diego State making the Final Four, the lowest-picked percentage of the foursome. Not that some of the others here were much higher: 1.27 for FAU, 4.72 for Miami and 9.86 for UConn

2 — Consecutive runs to at least the Elite Eight for Miami, after never making it that far before

2.08 — Percent of Men's Bracket Challenge game entries that had UConn winning it all. That was the best out of the No. 4 seeds and the 11th-highest overall. San Diego State was the lowest of the semifinalists at 0.15 percent, followed by FAU at 0.20 and Miami at 0.78.

3 — The number of first-time Final Four participants. The last time this happened was in 1970, when Jacksonville, New Mexico State and St. Bonaventure all made it for the first — and still only — time. It is also how many times UConn has won the NCAA title in Texas alone (2004 in San Antonio, 2011 in Houston, 2014 in Arlington)

4 — The number of national titles for UConn. If the Huskies win another, it'll be their fifth under three different coaches since 1999

"You don't go from Rhode Island to a place like UConn unless you have like high-level internal motivation to be challenged at the absolute highest level as a coach and as a player because you're going to be graded against the greatest coaches and players to play college basketball in the last 25 years," Huskies coach Dan Hurley said this week. You've got to have the stomach to handle that. You've got to have the toughness, the self-belief as players and coaches to want to put yourself in a situation where if you're not getting to Final Fours and not competing at the top of the Big East that you're failing. It's a lot easier to coach at places where making the tournament is enough. 

"But for me, when you grow up in the way I grew up, you want to go and challenge yourself all the time."

How just 6 brackets picked this exact wild Final Four

12 — Blocks in four NCAA tournament games by San Diego State's Nathan Mensah. The Ghanaian was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism in 2019 but has come back to help lead one of the country's best defensive units. He had five blocks in the Sweet 16 against top overall seed Alabama.

"Nathan is in business school. He is getting his MBA. He did a meaningful internship this summer where he's getting ready for the professional world," Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said. "Whatever Nathan gets, he almost sends half back to Ghana. Whether it's a scholarship check whatever it is, he's a giver, still concerned about his family in Ghana. And just a wonderful young man that represents himself, his family and our program in the best way.

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. San Diego St. Aztecs: Game Highlights

15-0 — UConn's record outside the Big East this season. Perhaps the Huskies are happy Creighton fell just short against the Aztecs in the Elite Eight

17 — The 3-point shooting percentage of San Diego State's opponents in the NCAA tournament

18-2 — Record of Conference USA teams in the NCAA, NIT and CBI tournaments. FAU is in the Final Four, North Texas beat fellow C-USA member UAB in the NIT championship game on Thursday, Charlotte won the CBI and Rice reached the CBI quarterfinals

22.5 — UConn's average margin of victory in the NCAA tournament. The record is 23.75 by 1967 UCLA, which was led by Lew Alcindor and blew out four foes: 109-60 vs. Wyoming, 80-64 vs. Pacific, 73-58 vs. Houston, 79-64 vs. Dayton

23 — The combined seeds of the teams: No. 4 UConn, No. 5 Miami (Fla.), No. 5 San Diego State and No. 9 Florida Atlantic. That is the second-highest total ever, trailing only the memorable 2011 tournament, which had 26 (No. 3 UConn, No. 4 Kentucky, No. 8 Butler and No. 11 VCU)

30-2 — San Diego State's record when COVID-19 canceled the remainder of the 2019-20 college basketball season. "We're doing it for those guys. I'm constantly talking to them, telling them how much I love them, how much I wish they could be here with us in this position," Aztecs guard Adam Seiko said of those 2019-20 seniors. "But they're so happy for us. And we're just blessed to be here."

52.3 — Miami's shooting percentage in its last three tournament wins. That included torching No. 2 Texas by making nearly 60 percent. The Hurricanes struggled against No. 12 Drake in the first round (30.4 percent) but have been on fire since — and with a different leading scorer in every game.

68.8 — Miami's NCAA tournament winning percentage in six appearances under coach Jim Larrañaga, going 11-5. Before taking over the Hurricanes in 2011-12, Miami was 4-6 (40 percent) with only six appearances since 1960

100 — Shooting percentage of Miami's Jordan Miller in the 88-81 Elite Eight victory against No. 2 Texas. Miller made all seven of his field goal attempts and went 13 for 13 at the line. Fifty years ago, UCLA star Bill Walton made 21 of his 22 attempts to score 44 points in the title win against Memphis State.

"I feel like regardless of the outcome, we're winners," Miller said earlier this week in Houston. "We made school history for the first time, Final Four. Obviously we still have goals we want to reach. But we're looking to just kind of set the foundation for Miami basketball and just be what teams look up to and try to reach."

Jordan Miller: Perfect shooting night leads Miami to Final Four

124 — Combined victories for the Final Four teams, led by FAU and its 35-3 mark. That is two more wins than the total of last year's historically big-named grouping of Duke, Kansas, North Carolina and Villanova. That's why FAU has brushed off talk about being labeled a Cinderella. "No Cinderella at Florida Atlantic, man. If you want to call us something, call us champ, call us the beach boys, but no Cinderellas," Owls forward Giancarlo Rosado said this week

1971 — The first time the Final Four was in a domed stadium, fittingly in Houston at the Astrodome. UCLA won its fifth consecutive title

UCLA beat Villanova for the title in the 1971 NCAA tournamentUCLA beat Villanova at the Astrodome to win the 1971 NCAA tournament title

1997 — The only time a No. 4 seed cut down the nets at the end of the season. In the 1997 NCAA tournament, Arizona beat three No. 1 seeds (Kansas in the sweet 16, Dean Smith's last North Carolina team in the Final Four, defending national champion Kentucky in the title game). UConn would be the second No. 4 to bring home a title

2006 — The last time a program entered a March Madness with zero NCAA tournament wins and made the Final Four: George Mason. FAU did that this year.

2013 — The only other time a No. 9 seed made the Final Four before FAU did it this tournament. Wichita State made it to Atlanta in 2013

2,900 — FAU's listed capacity for Eleanor R. Baldwin Arena. Capacity at NRG stadium in Houston will be well over 70,000

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