April 1, 2005 | NCAA Tournament coverage on ESPN.com
ST. LOUIS Wow, it is great to be here at the Final Four. The environment is fantastic, with all four schools well-represented. I had a great Italian dinner Thursday night at The Hill, where there are a number of great places and Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola grew up!
Everywhere I go, people ask me which team I like to win it all. Well, as I said at the end of last year's Final Four, North Carolina will cut down the nets. Let me ask one question would it really be a surprise if any of these four teams won it all?
These four teams are a combined 126-15. You can really make a case for all of them. You have four great coaches. Rick Pitino and Tom Izzo have already won championships. Roy Williams has the most pressure of the four coaches, but he has plenty of Final Four experience. Bruce Weber has done an outstanding job as well.
You have plenty of stars shining here. Sean May has been outstanding, averaging a double-double. And then there is Raymond Felton, well everybody loves Raymond, Francisco Garcia, Deron Williams, Dee Brown, Luther Head, Paul Davis, Alan Anderson and on and on.
These four clubs showed a lot of heart to get here. Each survived and advanced, as my late buddy Jimmy Valvano would say. Louisville was down 20 to West Virginia, Illinois 15 against Arizona, Michigan State won in double overtime against Kentucky and North Carolina had battles with Villanova and Wisconsin. All four teams belong here.
I am so impressed with Michigan State's athleticism, while Louisville plays hard and responds to its coach, Mr. Pitino, who is so capable of adjusting to each situation. North Carolina and Illinois are the favorites, but both will have a tough time.
It should be a great Final Four. Just think about last weekend, and remember last year's semifinals and how exciting they were.
College basketball is as healthy as ever. There is nothing like March Madness, baby!
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.