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College Basketball: 'Final Four' Prepare for Saturday Showdown - 2002-03-30


One of the most widely followed sporting events in the United States, the men's national collegiate basketball tournament, is set to play its Final Four Saturday in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Final Four is played at a different site each year, and this time it will be held here at the Georgia Dome, normally a football stadium, but reconfigured to seat about 5,300 for this event. Tickets have long been sold out, so scalpers are getting premium prices, with some of the best seats going for more than $1,000.

Sixty-five teams began play in this single elimination tournament known as "March Madness" earlier this month in four regions of the country. Only one of them, the University of Maryland reached the Final Four for a second consecutive year.

Maryland coach Gary Williams says, "We've been very fortunate that this year to have senior leadership. Our seniors this year have a done a terrific job. It's been a good group to coach. There haven't been many bad practices. We seem to know the job at hand. Every step of the way we've been able to do a good job getting ready for whoever we've played."

Here, Maryland will play Kansas. They are the only top-seeded teams from the four regionals that made it to the Final Four. Many believe this might be a better game than Monday night's championship, but the bracket match-ups are set in advance.

The other semifinal features a second-seed, Oklahoma, taking on Indiana, a fifth-seed. While Indiana was not even in the national top-25 heading into the tournament, it knocked off top seed and defending champion Duke en route to its first Final Four in a decade. Still, Oklahoma remains the heavy favorite.

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