Game, set, match - and a championship, too - for Joakim Noah and the Florida Gators. The tennis star's son dominated UCLA with 16 points, nine rebounds and a record six blocks Monday night to key a 73-57 blowout that gave Florida its first national title in basketball and officially wiped away its reputation as only a football school.
Ponytail power. Every kid in America might want to toss away those oh-so-yesterday headbands, grow out the dreadlocks and tie their hair back in a large bun. Forget about Kobe, LeBron, A.I. and Nash.
Gators (32-6) vs. Bruins (32-6)
UCLA had Bill Walton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and all those championship banners. Florida had Vernon Maxwell and Norm Sloan.
John Wooden's teams scored 100 points or more 88 times. That could be the UCLA you know - the hook shots of Lew Alcindor (before he became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), the bank shots of Bill Walton, the silky-smooth jump shots of Keith Wilkes (later Jamaal Wilkes), the long left-handed ones of Gail Goodrich, the swoops to the hoop of Marques Johnson.
Lee Humphrey lingered outside the arc, determined to keep on shooting. Swish. Swish. And make it three.
George Mason awoke Saturday night and became George Mason again.
Before the madness began, before the world came calling to their campus, hardly anyone outside of Fairfax, Va., knew anything about George Mason's Patriots.
He is not calling for a revolution or even suggesting major surgery. He is not asking for an all-comers free skate or even proposing a major increase in the number of participants. But Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim does want the NCAA Tournament field expanded.
With zero No. 1 seeds in the field for the first time in 26 years, this year's Final Four truly is up for grabs.
Baby blue is their color. Black and blue is their attitude. At some point early in coach Ben Howland's tenure on the West Coast, the UCLA Bruins woke up and realized they looked more like bruisers than a bunch of SoCal softies.
George Mason coach Jim Larranaga and Florida's Billy Donovan, his counterpart on the other bench in Saturday's first Final Four matchup in the RCA Dome, both played college basketball at Providence College.
Kelvin Sampson's success at Oklahoma was never much about flash. A denim-shirt sort of guy, it never took long for Sampson to shed his sportcoat on the Sooners' sideline.
No school could match the postseason success of Florida, George Mason, LSU or UCLA on the basketball court. The classroom marks of those teams weren't as tough to beat.
The three big-name teams at this year's Final Four start a combined four freshmen and seven sophomores.