"The Final Four is the Holy Grail. We all talk about how we shouldn't judge our careers on making the Final Four or on winning it, but every single one of us wants to be there." -Coach Gary Williams, University of Maryland (1989-present)
When college basketball teams make it to the NCAA tournament, they say they're "going to the dance." John Feinstein's riveting new book is the story of the last dance - the Final Four. There is no event in sports quite like it. The Final Four draws millions to their televisions and thousands to a chosen city - attendance is topped only by the Super Bowl. It is the epicenter of sports madness, a circus of media, coaches, and fans swirling around the four teams talented enough to have made it to the end.
Tracking the four teams in 2005's Final Four-Michigan State's Spartans, the University of Louisville's Cardinals, the University of Illinois's Fighting Illini, and the University of North Carolina's Tar Heels - John Feinstein tells the story of a definitive and dramatic tournament. Here are the stories of UCLA's John Wooden, UNC's Dean Smith, and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, telling of Final Four dynasties that defined the sport. Here are great players like Bill Bradley, Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner, and Sean May, who thought they'd never make it to college basketball's final weekend. Here are the late nights at the coaches' hotel, where careers are advanced (or not). Here are the players in the 2005 Final Four trying to practice, eat, rest, and play, knowing that they will be remembered by these games for the rest of their lives.
Feinstein also conveys the inspiring stories of the people behind the scenes who make the madness possible: the officials and referees who walk a tightrope in an effort to keep the tournament fair, the scouts and ticket scalpers along the edges, and the photographers and reporters whose passion for the tournament goes far beyond that of any average fan. With the unflinching eye of a knowledgeable reporter-2005 was Feinstein's twenty-sixth Final Four-and the unsurpassed skill of a great storyteller, Feinstein exposes the unforgettable drama of one of the most revered events in American sports.