By Dorothy J. Gentry
Dallas and Houston are playing host to the NCAA Final Four women’s and men’s basketball competitions this weekend.
The women’s Final Four – featuring defending champions and this year’s #1 overall seed South Carolina Gamecocks, along with the LSU Tigers, Virginia Tech Hokies and the Iowa Hawkeyes – kicks off Friday at Dallas’ American Airlines Center.
LSU will take on Virginia Tech at 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN followed by Iowa vs. South Carolina at 9:00 p.m. ET, also on ESPN. The winners will play for the Championship on Sunday.
In addition, two of the coaches in the Women’s Final Four are Black; Carolina’s Dawn Staley and Virginia Tech’s Kenny Brooks, the only male coach in the Women’s Final Four.
Staley, whose 36-0 Gamecocks are appearing in its fifth Women’s Final Four, are seeking a third national championship. They won the 2017 NCAA Championship in Dallas when the city last hosted the Final Four.
“I just want to say congratulations to all the Final Four coaches and programs,” Staley said during a call with reporters on Tuesday. “I’m sure we’re going to put on, you know, a great couple of games this weekend that hopefully will end in somebody hoisting that national championship trophy and making it a proud moment and memory.
“Dallas, it will be etched in my memory forever,” Staley continued. “I mean, it was the first time that we won a national championship.”
For two of the women’s Final Four teams, it’s been a long road back to the promised land. LSU hasn’t been in the Fina Four in 15 years; Iowa hasn’t been in three decades.
And for Virginia Tech, it’s their first time in the Final Four.
“I’m extremely proud of this group for what they’ve accomplished, and just watching them, it starts with the foundation, Elizabeth Kitley, Georgia Amoore, Taylor Geiman, Cayla King,” Brooks said during Tuesday’s call with the media.
“They really transformed the culture of this program, and we’ve been able to build off of that, and to see the culmination of work come to this, it’s just an unbelievable feeling for me because I know how hard they work.
“I am so very happy with this group,” Brooks continued. “We’ve gone through, we’ve been playing really good basketball the last couple months, and we just want to continue it on in Dallas.”
Men’s Final Four in Houston
Meanwhile, down 45 South, the men’s Final Four will kick off in Houston on Saturday. In the men’s tournament, the San Diego State Aztecs will play the Florida Atlantic Owls and the University of Miami Hurricanes will play the University of Connecticut Huskies.
It will be a history-making event for three of the teams; San Diego State, Florida Atlantic and Miami, are making their first trips to the Final Four in each of their school’s history.
San Diego State University and Florida Athletic will kick off on CBS at 6: 09 p.m. ET followed by Miami and UConn at 8:49 p.m. ET also on CBS.
Stay tuned to Texas Metro News for continuing coverage of the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Final Four.