College Basketball

Final Four includes 3 first-time coaches and Tom Izzo

Tom Izzo drew up the upset of Michigan State past Duke for a spot in the Final Four.  Out of all 4 coachers, only Izzo has done it before. This will be his eighth Final Four and a chance for a second national championship. What about the others?

Chris Beard’s is in his 12th coaching stop, now at Texas Tech. Their opponent next Saturday in Minneapolis: Izzo’s Spartans. Virginia’s Tony Bennett got over the hump in his 10th season with the Cavaliers after last year’s historic first-round flameout against No. 16 UMBC. Bruce Pearl at Auburn, after a split with Tennessee, guiding the Tigers to Minneapolis where they’ll face Virginia.

“I’m so happy for the people at Auburn who have been waiting forever to get their first Final Four,” Pearl said.Pearl was fired by Tennessee in 2011 and hit with a “show-cause” penalty by the NCAA for a string of violations and lying to investigators. The clouds of shadiness have followed him to Auburn.  As a reminder, Tigers assistant Chuck Person pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery and two players, Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy, were ruled ineligible last season as a result of the federal investigation.

“No matter how low we got this season, no matter how much adversity went through, we always believed this is where we could get to,” said Auburn’s Bryce Brown, who had 24 points in the Elite Eight win over Kentucky.  We’ll see how things play out during the Final Four!


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