Of the six previous Final Four events in Indianapolis, five coaches have won their first title at the Crossroads of America: Louisville’s Denny Crum, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Arizona’s Lute Olson and Florida’s Billy Donovan.
Given Kentucky’s John Calipari already has a championship, Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan, the stage is all yours …
• This is the seventh Final Four to be held in Indianapolis. The first was 1980, when Louisville – led by Dr. Dunkenstein, Darrell Griffith, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player – defeated UCLA at Market Square Arena.
The World Hockey Association’s Indianapolis Racers also used Market Square Arena from 1974 to 1979. Eight games into the last season, the Racers sold Wayne Gretzky, Eddie Mio and Peter Driscoll to the Edmonton Oilers. The Racers folded less than a month later.
Gretzky went on to become “The Great One,” and Mio was Gretzky’s best man when he married actress Janet Jones. Driscoll’s professional career spanned nine seasons and totaled 191 points – a single-season mark Gretzky eclipsed five times.
• Duke has won two national championships in Indianapolis – 1991 and 2010.
The 1991 Final Four was held at the Hoosier Dome. The championship weekend featured a rematch between the Blue Devils and UNLV, which had defeated Duke for the national title the year before. In the other semifinal game, Kansas’ Roy Williams knocked off mentor Dean Smith and North Carolina.
Led by Most Outstanding Player Christian Laettner, Duke defeated Kansas 72-65 for Krzyzewski’s first title.
In 2010, the Blue Devils won their fourth championship, defeating Butler 61-59 at Lucas Oil Stadium. It was the first time since UCLA in 1968 that a championship contender had played for the title in its home city.
The title was Krzyzewski’s fourth.
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• Michigan State also has won a championship in Indianapolis. The Spartans beat Florida 89-76 for the 2000 championship for Izzo’s first banner.
Mateen Cleaves was named Most Outstanding Player as the Spartans celebrated their first title since 1979, when Magic Johnson led Michigan State past Indiana State and Larry Bird.
Of note, the 2000 tournament was the final for legendary coach Bob Knight at the helm of the Indiana Hoosiers, which lost to No. 11 seed Pepperdine in the first round.
• Six years later, Florida won the 2006 title game against UCLA 73-57 at the RCA Dome.
For the first time since 1980 no No. 1 seeds made the Final Four; UCLA was a No. 2, Florida was a No. 3, LSU was a No. 4 and George Mason was a No. 11.
The Gators’ Joakim Noah was named Most Outstanding Player for Donovan’s first championship team.
• Kentucky has lost a title game in Indianapolis. In 1997, Arizona defeated Kentucky 84-79 in overtime at the RCA Dome.
The champion Wildcats became the first team during the 64-team era (1985) to beat three No. 1 seeds en route to the title: Kansas (Southeast Regional semifinals), North Carolina (Final Four) and defending champion Kentucky.
Arizona handed Olson his first title after two previous Final Four losses.