A Fanatical Conference

For the first time in almost two decades no number one team will play in the 2006 final four of the NCAA tournament.  George Mason University, University of Florida, Louisiana State University, University of California at Los Angeles will compete to see who will come out victorious in March Madness.  This Saturday GMU will face Florida and LSU will play UCLA to compete in the national championship of 2006.  

George Mason has never won a game in the NCAA tournament; therefore their final four placement is a surprise to George Mason team members and underdog basketball fans everywhere. “I’m so excited that George Mason is playing in the final four,” explains Julius Willis a sophomore majoring in English major from Howard University.  “No one would have ever expected to see this team in this position, they may win; it is going to be an exciting weekend.”

This is the first time that no number one seeds have made it to the final four since the mid-80s. GMU is a team from a semi-major conference in college basketball, no one including Gary Charles, a freshman majoring in biology at Howard University, expected they would reach the finals.

“I was so mad that University of Connecticut lost”, said Charles, a resident of New Haven, Conn. “I knew my Huskies were going to win; they have been the big east favorite for the entire college basketball season and for them to lose to GMU was devastating, however, now I am rooting for GMU to win, if someone has to win, it might as well be the major underdogs of the conference.” 

Upsets are not a big deal in the NCAA conference, often, teams in lower seeds will beat teams that are a few seeds higher; however the fall of UConn to GMU is “the” upset of the conference. 

GMU began this tournament beating  Michigan State a team from the big 10 conference, then  University of North Carolina from the Atlantic coast conference, Wichita State and finally UConn, destroying many fans brackets across the nation.  They defeated a team from each of the top three conferences in college basketball. 

Florida, a member of the SouthEastern Conference, won many games in the beginning of the season, but began going downhill mid season. Their inconsistency garnered low expectations for growth during the season. “I was very surprised that U of F played this well during March madness,” said Dominique Mathews, a senior majoring in marketing at Howard University.  “When they were undefended, they were very highly ranked, but they soon fell off.  I’m putting my chips on LSU to take it all.”  

Big Baby Davis and Tyrus Thomas plan on leading the LSU Tigers to an NCAA championship. After a significant win against Duke, the favorite over all team in the NCAA tournament, LSU wants to bring a victory and some much needed hope to the Gulf Coast Region.  

UCLA basketball is in the PAC-10 conference and is the highest seed left. They were a placed as a number two seed in the NCAA conference.  UCLA has a great history in the NCAA tournament.  This is their 16th appearance in the championships, tying them with North Carolina for the most Final Four appearances.  They also have won 11 national championships, the most in the history of college basketball, but their last win came in 1995.