Standing-room-only tickets for students from the participating schools may be made available before Saturday’s games if the demand exists, said Dan Gavitt, NCAA vice president of men’s basketball championships.
Gavitt said Friday that some student tickets have been turned back to tournament officials.
If those seats are sold and demand still exists after those tickets are gone, Gavitt said there is a supply of standing-room-only seats for students that will be tapped. As of Friday afternoon, NCAA officials were unsure if the SRO seats would be needed. The SRO seats will only be available to students, he said.
UConn and Kentucky are no strangers to the NCAA Tournament or Final Four, but neither was in the tournament a year ago.
The Huskies were serving a one-year ban for academic issues, and the Wildcats were passed over by the selection committee and instead played in the NIT.
UConn won its third NCAA title in 2011 and lost in the first round the following season. Kentucky won the 2012 title but the following season had to settle for the NIT, where it lost to Robert Morris in the first round.
UConn senior Niels Giffey, who is from Berlin, Germany, reached out to invite the Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki to the Final Four but the Mavs are on the road. “I’ve met him,” Giffey said. “It would have been fun.”
The SEC garnered only three invites to the Big Dance, but the conference is 10-1 with two teams still standing. Kentucky coach John Calipari said No. 11-seed Tennessee’s surprising run to the Sweet 16, and the fact that the conference has two teams in the Final Four for the first time since 2006, proves the SEC was underrated.
“I’m happy that we’re still standing; Florida’s still standing,” Calipari said. “And [Volunteers coach] Cuonzo [Martin] did an unbelievable job with his team. As a matter of fact, I’m not so sure if they weren’t in another region, they wouldn’t still be playing.”
Florida and LSU advanced to the Final Four in 2006. The SEC also had two Final Four teams in 1996 (Kentucky and Mississippi State) and 1994 (Arkansas and Florida). The SEC won the national title the previous three times it had two Final Four teams.
Movin’ Mavs roll
UT Arlington’s wheelchair basketball team, the Movin’ Mavs, held a 30-minute intra-squad scrimmage before the Final Four teams took the floor for their open practice sessions Friday at AT&T Stadium. UTA player Juan Soto said he and his teammates were excited to perform in the venue, especially rolling across the Final Four logo at midcourt.
“It was an honor to play where so many of these guys who are going to be NBA superstars in the future get to play,” Soto said.
The Movin’ Mavs are seven-time national champions in the intercollegiate division of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association. They finished as the national runner-up this season.
Donovan: Wiggins no franchise-changer
Florida coach Billy Donovan has heard the hype regarding Kansas freshman guard Andrew Wiggins and has some advice for future NBA teams: He is not a franchise-changer.
“I’ve got an enormous amount of respect for Andrew Wiggins as a player,” Donovan said. “I’ve seen Andrew Wiggins play a lot. Andrew Wiggins is no different than any young player. It’s going to take him some time to reach his fullest potential.
“But it’s interesting in preseason how everyone is going to talk about who is going to dump games in the NBA to get Andrew Wiggins.
“He’s a terrific player, but he’s just not changing a franchise once he gets there.”