NCAA Final Four | KERA News

NCAA Final Four

Updated at 9:30 p.m. ET

By now, it's fair to say South Carolina is a better team than Mississippi State. The Gamecocks' 67-55 win in the national title game Sunday was South Carolina's third — and most convincing — win over the Bulldogs this season.

The women's first basketball championship is all the more impressive since the team lost senior center Alaina Coates to an ankle injury before the tournament started.

Before Friday night's national semifinal game, the Mississippi State women's basketball coach gave an unusual motivational speech.

"I will not be scared," Vic Schaefer told his players. "There is no reason to be scared. You are one heck of a basketball team."

The tactic makes more sense in light of the opponent: 36-0 University of Connecticut, riding a 111-game winning streak that included a 60-point thrashing of Mississippi State in last year's Sweet 16. At the time, it was the worst defeat in tournament history.

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March Madness will dominate televisions. But not everyone's a fan of the organization that puts on the event.

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Bryce Alford made four 3-pointers in the final 3:40, his last on a rare goaltending call with 13 seconds remaining, to push 11th-seeded UCLA to a 60-59 upset of sixth-seeded SMU on Thursday in the teams' NCAA opener in Louisville, Kentucky.

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Another big score for North Texas and college basketball.  Six months after Arlington hosted the NCAA Men’s Final Four, the city of Dallas landed the Women’s championship for 2017. It’s part of a plan to make Dallas a go-to destination for college hoops.

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College basketball fans from Connecticut, Wisconsin, Florida and especially Kentucky are flooding into Arlington this weekend for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. KERA’s Stephen Becker spent Friday with thousands of them at AT&T Stadium.

Three of the Final Four teams use blue as a school color. But on Friday, the bulk of that blue was on the backs of Kentucky fans.

“I’m not gonna miss Kentucky playin’. If we’re goin’ to a Final Four, I’m gonna be there if I have to walk.”

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Fans from Florida, Wisconsin, Connecticut and Kentucky are cashing in frequent flyer miles, nailing down hotels, scrounging for tickets and heading to North Texas for the NCAA men’s Final Four, which starts Saturday. NPR’s sports correspondent, Tom Goldman, is coming, with 80,000 or so of his closest friends. KERA’s vice president of news, Rick Holter, talked with him.

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: Mark Cuban vs. Jerry Jones on the NFL; a local journalist wants Bruce Springsteen to pull her onstage; look at the Final Four floor; and more.

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Update, Monday, 6:05 p.m.: SMU did not make it into the NCAA tournament despite a top 25 ranking. The Mustangs host an NIT game against California-Irvine Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Moody Coliseum.

Our original post: Larry Brown has had a singular career in the basketball world. He’s coached 10 NBA teams and three college squads, and he’s the only coach ever to win both the NCAA and pro titles. And just weeks before the Final Four comes to North Texas, he took his latest reclamation project, SMU, into the top 25 for the first time in nearly three decades.

Brown sat down with KERA’s vice president of news, Rick Holter, for a Friday Conversation.

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Update, 5:14 p.m.: Oklahoma State's star basketball player, Marcus Smart, has been suspended for three games after he shoved a fan Saturday night during an altercation at the end of a game against Texas Tech in Lubbock.

The university held a press conference late Sunday afternoon, and Marcus Smart spoke briefly. "I really apologize," Smart said. "This is not me."

Coach Travis Ford would not go into detail about the exchange Smart had with the Texas Tech fan that led to the run-in. "I think Marcus puts a lot of pressure on himself, and it's something we've worked on," Ford said.

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Five stories that have North Texas talking: Who killed President Kennedy?, keep your umbrellas handy, the Nasher hosts a ceramic show, and more:

Fifty years after President John F. Kennedy was killed in downtown Dallas, Americans are still uncertain as to who ended his life. A new national survey shows that more than 70 percent of those polled don’t believe that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

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When the NCAA Final Four comes to North Texas in April, it is going to be a lot more than basketball and bragging rights.

In the months leading up to tip-off, thousands of DFW kids will take on service work ranging from reading to seniors to gardening projects.