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    It was only fitting that Kearney Catholic’s fourth-quarter comeback to win the Class C-1 girls state basketball title came on the same end of the Pinnacle Bank Arena where the Stars pulled off another great escape almost four months earlier.

    One short year ago, college basketball was getting ready for the game of a lifetime: North Carolina vs. Duke at the Final Four. And this year? Well, to put it kindly, who the heck are these guys? The NCAA Tournament, the annual event that has made marketing gold out of the story of underdogs and an anyone-can-win-it free-for-all, has produced an extreme rendition of what happens when all that cherished unpredictability plays itself out to the end. In one Final Four meeting, it will be San Diego State against Florida Atlantic. In the other, it will be Miami vs. UConn. Of the four teams descending on Houston, only one has ever sniffed a Final Four before. It's the first time since 1970 that has happened.

    All this buzz about how a wildly unpredictable March Madness led to a Final Four nobody could've possibly seen coming overlooked one small detail. That detail is UConn. When Connecticut tips off against Miami in the semifinal, it will be two wins away from the school's fifth national title since 1999. No other school has won more over that span. When the name "UConn" came up with a "4" next to its name three weekends ago on Selection Sunday, nobody raised too much of a stink. Four wins later it's becoming apparent this is a team that might have been underestimated.

    Florida Atlantic and San Diego State are giving the Final Four a mid-major flavor. Their national semifinal marks the second time two mid-majors will meet in the Final Four since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The Owls qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time and have made it a memorable one, rolling all the way into their first Final Four. San Diego State also is in its first Final Four, riding one of the nation's best defenses through the bracket.

    Getting a team through to the Final Four is a major boost for mid-major conferences financially, promotionally and for visibility on a national scale. The deeper a team goes in the bracket, the more money goes to their conference. The conferences use the money to upgrade league tournaments and on bolder promotion. Schools often use the windfall on athletic facilities and on-campus video production. The extra money is also a huge boon for better TV deals and exposure that allows them competitive opportunities previously out of reach.


    As Al Davis sat down to reflect on John Madden’s coaching legacy, 30 years had passed since the Raiders’ first Super Bowl victory. “For a while, there were words that we and he couldn’t win the big one, because we had lost so many championship games,” Davis told me in 2006 during an exclusive interview. Fast forward to the modern-day 49ers. They’ve lost in the NFC Championship Game in ...

    PHOENIX — The Miami Dolphins have been on a strong run of reeling in top-tier veteran talent over the past two offseasons. In trades for star wide receiver Tyreek Hill and cornerback Jalen Ramsey, each indicated Miami was where they wanted to go among teams that could build the framework for a deal. They and edge rusher Bradley Chubb, acquired at last season’s trade deadline, all signed up for ...

    Garret McGuire had an idea. But in his father’s opinion, that wouldn’t be enough. Garret, a Baylor sophomore quarterback at the time, needed more before he walked into head coach Matt Rhule’s office with a play suggestion. He needed a plan. He needed notes. He needed video proof. Even then, “he’s still going to crush your soul,” Joey McGuire, a former Baylor assistant and now head coach at ...

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