July 16, 2024

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UNDATED (AP) — This year’s Final Four is either unprecedented or pretty close. North Carolina is making a record 21st appearance in the Final Four. Its semifinal opponent, Duke, is waiting with the sport’s winningest coach. Mike Krzyzewski surpassed 1,200 victories during this postseason run. Kansas arrives having recently taken over the Division I lead in all-time wins. Villanova doesn’t have quite the storied history of the other three schools, but the Wildcats are now trying for their third national title in seven years. So the quartet of programs in this year’s Final Four is truly special. Only a few others can really compare.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — There was a time, not that many years ago, when predicting who would win the women’s NCAA Tournament was not that difficult. UConn or Tennessee, or Baylor or maybe Stanford, depending on the year, dominated the season and the tournament. But this year is not a year like that. South Carolina comes into Minneapolis as the favorite, but Stanford, UConn and Louisville have all been there before and each had to fight this season to get back to the top, as parity in women’s basketball continues to surge.

UNDATED (AP) — The arrival of Olympic champion Sunisa Lee, new, relaxed rules on athlete compensation and better exposure on TV are fueling interest in NCAA women’s gymnastics. Attendance figures have spiked at several schools this season, including Auburn, where Lee is a freshman. Women’s gymnastics as a whole is thriving, with several schools preparing to join at the collegiate level in coming seasons. Lee says college gymnastics is a “positive” place that plays in contrast to elite gymnastics, which has struggled to find a way forward since sordid allegations of physical, mental and emotional abuse.

UNDATED (AP) — March Madness has taken a power turn as it turns to the Final Four. No more plucky underdogs. This year’s semifinalists are Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and Villanova, four powerhouses with 17 national championships among them. The first game on Saturday night in New Orleans puts Villanova up against Kansas, the lone No. 1 seed still in the field. The nightcap is one of the best rivalries in sports: Duke vs. North Carolina, who have played each other 257 times. This will be their first matchup in the NCAA Tournament.

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