Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
ASU Commencement is May 3rd!

4 teams are left in the men's NCAA basketball tournament

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

All right. College basketball's postseason continues to live up to that March Madness nickname. Several newcomers qualified over the weekend for the Final Four in the men's Division I tournament. At the same time, the women's tournament is showing off a newfound parity with surprises of its own. Here's NPR's Tom Goldman.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: By the end of the weekend, this maddest of Marches left many a college basketball fan dazed. There were almost as many historic moments as advertisements featuring AT&T's Lily - almost. Friday night in the men's tournament, the last No. 1 seeds, Alabama and Houston, lost.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: So the headline here is that there is no No. 1 left in the Elite Eight for the first time ever.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JIM NANTZ: It's the biggest win in Hurricane hoops history - Miami, heading to the Final Four for the first time.

GOLDMAN: Sunday night, the University of Miami finished off the men's action with a win over Texas, heard here on CBS, and became the third Final Four first-timer, along with San Diego State and Florida Atlantic University. The FAU Owls are the lowest seed among the remaining teams, which also include Connecticut, and the biggest surprise to everyone but the FAU Owls. Bryan Greenlee is a junior guard.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BRYAN GREENLEE: Honestly, all the things people say just fuels us to even go out there and play even harder. So they can say what we want to say - we're a Cinderella team, say we don't belong - but we've constantly proven people wrong all season.

GOLDMAN: It was a regular season where no one dominant men's team emerged. The parity was fueled by players using the transfer portal to change schools and spread talent. Also, the NCAA gave athletes an extra year of eligibility due to COVID postponements, meaning teams were stocked with experienced players. This all could be said for the women's game as well, which traditionally hasn't had the parity and depth of the men's game. But change is happening. In this tournament, two No. 1 seeds lost before the round of 16, the first time that's happened in a quarter century. Dawn Staley coaches the overall No. 1-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DAWN STALEY: This is a new history that we're, you know, we're venturing into because there are so many great players and parity in our league that we need to start documenting because we probably lost a lot of our history because we chose not to share it.

GOLDMAN: Iowa's Caitlin Clark is doing her part to show off the women's game.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: And Caitlin Clark has a 40-point triple-double in the Elite Eight.

GOLDMAN: That was history, as heard on ESPN. No women's tournament player had ever pulled off the 40-point triple-double. Clark, a junior guard, finished with 41 points to go with 12 assists and 10 rebounds in Iowa's Elite Eight win over Louisville.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CAITLIN CLARK: You know, I thought our team played really well. That's what it's all about. You know, I was going to give every single thing I had. When I came here, I said I wanted to take this program to the Final Four, and all you got to do is dream. And then all you got to do is believe and work your butt off to get there.

GOLDMAN: It's Iowa's first trip to the women's Final Four in 30 years. LSU also qualified yesterday. It's the first Final Four since 2007 that won't include perennial power UConn. The Huskies most likely will be back. But for now, women's college basketball is showing it's quite capable of filling the void.

Tom Goldman, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.