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The Ncaa Tournament

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.

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.

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Shaka Smart was voted the AP men's basketball coach of the year after leading Marquette to regular-season and Big East Tournament titles. He received 24 of 58 votes from a national panel to beat out Kansas State coach Jerome Tang.

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Iowa State was quick to say that its miserable shooting performance in the NCAA Tournament had nothing to do with some wonky rims in Greensboro, North Carolina. Nevertheless, the Cyclones were among the many teams that struggled during the opening weekend, especially from the 3-point line.

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Drew Timme and Jaime Jaquez Jr. grew up in different states, yet often came across each other at AAU tournaments, sometimes as roommates. The two fancy-footworking forwards with the fantastic facial hair will be reunited Thursday night in Las Vegas, when Gonzaga meets UCLA in the NCAA Tournament's West Region semifinals.

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Social media has turbocharged March Madness, that one-of-a-kind American sporting event with communal elements already built in long before the internet even existed. Taking advantage of this Madness-fueled social media explosion requires a bit of savvy, discernment and lots of engagement.

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An event that would have been unthinkable not even a decade ago is coming to Las Vegas this week. That's March Madness. The NCAA Tournament avoided the city for many years because sports betting is legal in it. The governing body for collegiate athletics even had a policy in place of not allowing its championship events to be played in Nevada. But now, with sports betting abound, the NCAA has no qualms about playing in the state. The West Region games to be held this week at T-Mobile Arena are among the many championship events the NCAA has awarded to the city.

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