NCAA Final Four highlights: Presidents, stadium itself steal the show

Posted Tuesday, Apr. 08, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Highlights from the 2014 NCAA Final Four in North Texas

Presidential suite

High: Former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were guests of Jerry Jones in his suite for Monday’s championship. They were cheered by the crowd as they waved and smiled on the giant video board.

Low: But the biggest cheers came when the video board’s cameras caught two guys dancing in the aisle during a commercial break. The crowd roared each time the camera cut to their moves. The pair easily generated the most non-game reaction.

Bruce’s opener

High: Bruce Springsteen strode on stage at Reunion Park in Dallas holding a basketball before opening his Sunday night show with Van Halen’s Jump.

Low: Wait, Bruce Springsteen covered Van Halen’s Jump? You know, because there’s a lot of jumping in basketball.

Famous fans

High: Johnny Manziel joined Jerry Jones in his suite for Saturday’s semifinals. Tony Romo and Jason Witten and others watched from their suite.

Low: Former Wisconsin star and Denver Bronco Montee Ball tried to join the Badger student section but was denied by security because he lacked the required student wristband.

Attendance tally

High: A record 158,682 attended the Final Four and a brave 20,000 or so attended Springsteen’s wet and chilly show Sunday night.

Low: Student sections behind both backboards were about a third full during the games. The NCAA tried to lure students from local colleges with $20 three-game passes and $10 parking, but it didn’t appear there were many takers.

AT&T Stadium atmosphere

High: Some were impressed with the atmosphere at AT&T Stadium, such as Baylor coach Scott Drew, who tweeted “AT&T Stadium needs to be in the rotation every 3 or 4 yrs to Host a Final 4. Tremendous Venue to watch a game!!! Not even Close.”

Low: Others weren’t feeling it. Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel tweeted the “Final Four should never be held in an city where you can’t walk to the arena from downtown. Ever.”

Tournament moment

High: Aaron Harrison’s 3-pointer with 5.7 seconds remaining against Wisconsin sent Kentucky to the NCAA title game.

Low: Scottie Wilbekin’s semifinal performance. The Florida senior was 2 for 9 from the field, including 0 for 3 from 3-point range, with one assist and three turnovers.

ESPN returns to Cowtown

High: ESPN went live all week from Sundance Square in Fort Worth (just as it did for the 2011 Super Bowl) and the city looked great in the background, even if the weather refused to cooperate for much of the time.

Low: Despite ESPN’s presence in downtown, most of the segue shots used in and out of commercials seemed to feature the Dallas skyline or, more understandably, AT&T Stadium, leaving the impression that Sundance Square is in Big D.

Quotable

“I’m smarter than I am good at basketball.”

Pat Lenehan, a junior walk-on at Connecticut studying molecular and cell biology.

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