A year ago, UConn was in the midst of a surprising run that would end up in a national title, the second in three years for the program. And while the Huskies are annually one of the nation's best programs, the 2013-14 season was supposed to be a rebuilding one because second-year coach Kevin Ollie had Shabazz Napier and a lot of questions behind him.
Well, Napier carried the load and then some, not to mention the emergence of DeAndre Daniels and strong showings from Ryan Boatright, Amida Brimah and Niels Giffey. Put differently: the Huskies got hot for six games and rolled to a championship, despite beginning the tournament as a No. 7 seed. And this fact should be of great comfort to Michigan State, the only team in the Final Four that wasn't a No. 1 seed. The Spartans face Duke on Saturday, and the winner faces either Kentucky or Wisconsin in the finals on Monday.
The Blue Devils opened as 4.5-point favorites but don't sleep on the Spartans. At least if recent history means anything to you.
Behold, via @Paul_Brunner:
Preseason rank: MSU - 18th; UConn - 18th
Conference record: MSU - 12-6 (3rd); UConn - 12-6 (3rd)
Conference tournament: MSU - third; UConn - third
NCAA Tournament seed: MSU - 7th; UConn - 7th
2nd round game: MSU - defeated No. 10 seed; UConn - defeated No. 10 seed
3rd round game: MSU - defeated No. 2 seed; UConn - defeated No. 2 seed
Sweet 16: MSU - defeated No. 3 seed; UConn - defeated No. 3 seed
Elite Eight: MSU - defeated No. 4 seed; UConn - defeated No. 4 seed
Final Four opponent seed: MSU - No. 1; UConn - No. 1
Other two teams left: Kentucky, Wisconsin; UConn - Kentucky, Wisconsin
Result MSU - TBA; UConn - national title.
You've been warned, Duke.