The Final Four: Giants to tussle in Georgia

At this time 12 months ago, the buzz around the Final Four involved an upstart from the Beltway named George Mason, making the most improbable NCAA run in a couple of decades. Some remarked about UCLA's attempt to revive the glory days. Others smiled at LSU and Glen (Big Baby) Davis for adding some levity.

Florida generated the least amount of attention in Indianapolis, but managed to sneak out of Hoosier country with the trophy and the nets, dispelling the notion that Gainesville was nothing but a football town -- for eight months, anyway.

Rest assured, neither the Gators, nor anyone else, will sneak out this time around.

When the college basketball world - hundreds of coaches, hundreds of media, hundreds of curiosity seekers, and four actual basketball teams -- descend upon Atlanta this week, they'll be among giants.

Georgetown, Ohio State, UCLA and Florida are all, to some degree, part of the game's ruling gentry. Each of them has won national titles -- 11 of them in the Bruins' case. They also share the common bond of a prolonged struggle to get this far, both in the regular season and the Dance they have shared the past two weekends.

In the case of the Hoyas, that exile from the top has been quite long -- 22 years since its last Final Four visit. It took a restoration of the family name, and some remarkable clutch play, to book this reservation for the Georgia Dome.

John Thompson III arrived three years ago in the nation's capital, fresh from Princeton, determined to take the program his father made famous back to the top -- but doing it his own way.

This meant the Princeton system of back-door cuts on offense, matched with the old Hoya toughness on the defensive side. Quickly, the Hoyas went from Big East doormat to a sweep of this year's regular-season and tournament titles.

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