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2024 Final Four is filled with intriguing storylines to watch

The 2024 Final Four is officially set as the defending champions Connecticut Huskies and top seeded Purdue Boilermakers are joined by the Alabama Crimson Tide and NC State Wolfpack. There are plenty of intriguing storylines as Connecticut attempts to become the first repeat national champions since 2007 and Purdue looks to redeem themselves from a historic upset last season, while Alabama makes their first trip to the Final Four and NC State returns to the semifinals for the first time since cutting down the nets in 1983.

1. Connecticut Huskies (35-3)

Connecticut arrives with a 35-3 record after winning the Big East regular season and Big East Tournament championship behind All-American point guard Tristen Newton (15.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game), plus projected NBA Draft lottery picks Donovan Clingan (22 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in 77-52 win against Illinois in Elite Eight) and Stephon Castle. Dan Hurley's team is just two wins away from becoming the eighth school to win back to back national titles and first since Florida in 2007.

2. Purdue Boilermakers (33-4)

Purdue brings a 33-4 record into the Final Four following a second straight Big Ten regular season title, fueled by National Player of the Year and star center Zach Edey (career-high 40 points and 16 rebounds in 72-66 win over Tennessee in Elite Eight) and backcourt trio Braden Smith, Lance Jones and Fletcher Loyer. Matt Painter's team clinched a berth in the Final Four for the first time since 1980 and are hoping to complete a lengthy journey to make up for a string of disappointing losses in the last decade.

3. Alabama Crimson Tide (25-11)

Alabama comes in with a 25-11 record after leading the nation with 90.6 points per game this season as All-SEC point guard Mark Sears (21.5 points and 4.1 assists per game on 41.3% shooting from 3-point range) leads the way along with forward Grant Nelson (24 points and 12 rebounds in thrilling 89-87 upset against North Carolina in Sweet Sixteen) and guard Rylan Griffen. Nate Oats will face a familiar foe in Huskies head coach Dan Hurley following several years coaching with Bobby Hurley in Buffalo.

4. NC State Wolfpack (26-14)

NC State finished the regular season on a 4-game losing streak before a shocking run to win the ACC Tournament championship for the first time in nearly four decades, followed by a historic trip to the Final Four as center DJ Burns (29 points and four rebounds in 76-64 win over ACC rival Duke in Elite Eight) and guard DJ Horne lead the charge. Kevin Keatts helped turn a middling year into an unforgettable campaign as 11th seeded NC State tied the record for being the lowest seeded team to ever reach the Final Four.

The Huskies (-185) are currently the betting favorites to take home a second straight national title with a win over the Boilermakers (+190) in the championship game next week! Connecticut is 11.5-point favorites against Alabama and Purdue opened as 9.5-point favorites over NC State prior to tip off of the Final Four in Phoenix on Saturday night. Purdue center Zach Edey and Connecticut guard Tristen Newton headline players to watch in the Final Four alongside Alabama guard Mark Sears and NC State center DJ Burns!

Championship Odds:

1. Connecticut (-185)

2. Purdue (+190)

3. Alabama (+1200)

4. NC State (+1800)

Final Four Top Players:

1. Zach Edey (Purdue center)

2. Tristen Newton (Connecticut guard)

3. Donovan Clingan (Connecticut center)

4. Mark Sears (Alabama guard)

5. DJ Burns (NC State center)

6. Stephon Castle (Connecticut guard)

7. Braden Smith (Purdue guard)

8. DJ Horne (NC State guard)

9. Grant Nelson (Alabama forward)

10. Cam Spencer (Connecticut guard)

Keep up with my most recent content on Cincy on the Prowl and Dunking with Wolves, plus make sure to follow me on Twitter and YouTube!

Photo Credit: NCAA.


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