Only four teams remain in the 2023 NCAA tournament. March Madness is so-called because the unexpected always happens, but this year’s edition of the Big Dance might be the craziest of them all. For one, no No. 1, No. 2, or No.3 seed has made it to the Final Four round of the tournament. The No. 4 UConn Huskies are the highest seed remaining and they are joined by No. 5 San Diego State Aztecs, No. 5 Miami Hurricanes, and No. 9 Florida State Owls. Which among those teams will advance to the national title game? We’ll know that on Saturday. But first, let’s take a look at some of the Final Four details.
What time will the 2023 Final Four games be played?
The tussle between Florida Atlantic and San Diego State will start at 6:09 PM ET. Almost three hours later, the matchup featuring Miami and UConn will take place at exactly 8:49 PM ET.
Where will the 2023 Final Four be held?
The 2023 NCAA tournament Final Four round will be at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. If that place sounds familiar, then that’s because it’s the home of the NFL’s Houston Texans.
This time around, though, it will host the NCAA tournament’s national semifinals featuring Florida Atlantic, San Diego State, Miami, and UConn. The NRG Stadium was opened over two decades ago in 2002. The first sporting event to take place there was a preseason showdown between the Texans and the Miami Dolphins. If it means anything to the Hurricanes, the Dolphins won that said matchup against Houston.
Florida Atlantic vs San Diego State matchup
Not many thought that Florida Atlantic would get this far. It’s amazing how the Owls have managed to surpass expectations round after round in the 2023 NCAA tournament.
Prior to this year’s March Madness, the last time the Owls were able to go to the Big Dance was way back in 2002, during which they struck out right in the very first round of the tournament. That was also just the only time the program had been to the NCAA tournament until Dustin May steered the Owls to the top of their league this season. Florida Atlantic won the Conference-USA’s regular season title and the Conference-USA’s tournament to lock up an automatic bid.
In the first round of the 2023 March Madness, Florida Atlantic eliminated Penny Hardaway and the Memphis Tigers to the tune of a 66-65 score. Then the Owls took care of business against Cinderella Fairleigh Dickinson Knights, 78-70, in the second round before upsetting the Tennessee Volunteers in the Sweet 16 stage. To get to the Final Four, the Owls defeated Jerome Tang’s Kansas State Wildcats in the Elite Eight round, 79-76.
San Diego State, on the other hand, is also having quite a ride this season. Like the Owls, the Aztecs won the regular season title and the tournament championship over at their own league in the Mountain West Conference. They lost just three games in MWC play before topping the conference’s tourney.
The Aztecs got a No. 5 seed on Selection Sunday and scored their first win in the 2023 March Madness by taking down the Charleston Cougars in the opening round, 63-57. In the second round, San Diego State ended the dreams of the Furman Paladins with a landslide 75-52 victory.
The Aztecs stayed hot and pulled off a massive upset in the Sweet 16 round, sending No. 1 seed Alabama Crimson Tide home via a 71-64 triumph. In the Elite Eight round, the Aztecs found themselves in a dogfight versus the Creighton Bluejays, needing a controversial foul and a free-throw make in the dying seconds of the game to secure a heart-stopping 57-56 win and book San Diego State’s first-ever trip to the Final Four.
Miami vs UConn matchup
Like Florida Atlantic and San Diego State, the Hurricanes are also entering just their first-ever Final Four game, and that was made possible by Miami by simply going red-hot on offense. Jim Larranaga’s Hurricanes have been using the opposing teams’ defenses as punching bags in the 2023 NCAA tournament.
Ranked fifth in the nation in terms of adjusted offensive efficiency, the Hurricanes have scored at least 85 points in each of their games since the second round. That speaks volumes about how scary Miami’s defense is, largely because of the teams they beat in those contests. After defeating the Drake Bulldogs in the first round, 63-56, the Hurricanes, who also won the ACC’s regular season title, pummeled the Indiana Hoosiers in the second round, 85-69. Miami would then blow out No. 1 seed Houston Cougars out of the water in the Sweet 16 round, 89-75, before stunning the No. 2 seed Texas Longhorns with a majestic come-from-behind 88-81 victory in the Elite Eight stage.
And then there’s UConn basketball. The Huskies are the veteran in the room in the Final Four, as they are the only program among the last teams standing which has experienced what it’s like to be this deep in the NCAA tournament. Connecticut is the current favorite to win the Big Dance. After all, the Huskies also carry the highest seed in the Final Four. The Huskies, with their elite play on both ends of the floor, defeated the Iona Gaels (87-63) in the first round, Saint Mary’s Gaels (70-55) in the second round, Arkansas Razorbacks (88-65) in the Sweet 16, and the Gonzaga Bulldogs (82-54) in the Elite Eight.
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