We're five days away from the Final Four. There is much to learn, or relearn, in that time. Now that you've finished with Myron's early primer (and if you aren't, what are you waiting for?), let's look at four big themes you should know about the teams involved, the road they took to get here, and the weekend's event itself. We're calling this little mini-series Four for Four, which is not particularly clever but the best we can do on the Monday morning after an insane weekend. Check back throughout the day for each brief installment.
Last but not least: On this year's Final Four site, New Orleans.
The Final Four is always better in New Orleans. When New Orleans hosts the Final Four, lasting moments happen. Michael Jordan's game-winning shot in 1982. Keith Smart's in 1987. Jim Boeheim's first national title (and Hakim Warrick's massive block) in 2003. Chris Webber's timeout in 1993. And so many more.
So what do you need to know about this year's tournament venue? For one, it will be played in the Superdome, the first arena the NCAA chose when it slowly but surely began to expand the Final Four into the event we see now. Since then, the NCAA has determined -- and understandably so -- that audience demands require a massive indoor facility for every Final Four; the event is no longer held in anything less than a 70,000-seat stadium. In some cases, as in the 2011 edition, held at Houston's Reliant Stadium, this leads to basketball's marquee event feeling stale and sterilized, with commentators harping on about the lack of atmosphere and the strange lines of sight turning the games into ugly, defensive affairs. (Whether this is true is up for debate. But if you get close enough to court level at the Final Four, it's hard not to notice just how unfathomably cavernous the shooting backgrounds can be. If anything, it's an adjustment. But still.)
In any case, this is less likely to be the case at the Superdome, an arena long-since accustomed to hosting these big-time basketball events. It's going to be awesome.
As for tickets, well, you're going to be shelling out a pretty penny. That's what happens when you get both Kentucky and Kansas at a Final Four; those fans will gobble up tickets no matter the price.
As for travel, this humble author suggests you merely book a plane ticket or bus ride to Louisville or Lexington, Ky., where you could then steal away on one of the thousands of RVs and minivans that will be making the pilgrimage south from the Commonwealth all week. Picture the gold-rush-era Oregon Trail, but you won't have to ford the river, and no one will die of dysentery.
However you choose to get there, just get there. The atmosphere is going to be amazing. The location couldn't be better. And the Final Four itself -- as epic a foursome as we've seen since 2008 -- should more than live up to the billing.