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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Final Fourcast: Duke and the Upstarts

NEW YORK -- Final Four -- what every American coach, player and fan has been talking about and dreaming of since practice started on Nov. 1 -- is set with Duke, Arkansas, Arizona and Florida snaring the honors.


Three more games and a U.S. national college champion will be crowned. But that's jumping way ahead of a great weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina.


Duke, the team that has made the Final Four its postseason home for the past decade, gets Florida, the new kid on the block.


Arizona and Arkansas, teams which each made a recent trip to the national semifinals, meet in the other game.


Duke is in the Final Four for the seventh time in nine years, a feat no conference can even match. The Big 10 has sent six teams in that span and Kansas' four appearances are second to the Blue Devils among schools.


That experience should be a big advantage when Duke faces Florida, a school which had made only three National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament showings until now, getting as far as regional semifinals just once.


That may play into the Gators' hands, however, as they played the role all season of a team looking for respect. Their selection as a No. 3 seed received little attention.


The Blue Devils not only have the advantage of being regulars in the Final Four, but they only have to travel 240 kilometers. To be fashionable on the streets of Charlotte, make sure you are wearing blue.


The game will come down to Florida's outstanding backcourt of Dan Cross and Craig Brown facing the tremendous team defense second-seeded Duke used in shutting down Marquette and Purdue in the regionals.


Duke won it all in 1991 and 1992, and seniors Grant Hill, Tony Lang and Marty Clark are chasing ring No. 3.


Florida upset second-seeded Connecticut in overtime before ousting Boston College in the regional finals. BC were rolling along as giant-killers, taking out top-ranked North Carolina and shocking Bobby Knight's Indiana, before succumbing to the Gators.


Arkansas, which made its last trip to the Final Four in 1990, will bring along its biggest fan, President Bill Clinton, and the most depth of any team by far. The Razorbacks use their deep bench to wear teams down, and second-seeded Arizona will present a tough test with one of the best three-guard sets in the country in Damon Stoudamire, Khalid Reeves and Reggie Geary.


Arizona was in the Final Four in 1988 and this will be coach Lute Olson's third trip. He took Iowa there in 1980.


With Arkansas and Florida from the Southeastern Conference, this is the seventh time in nine years one league has sent two teams to the Final Four.


For those looking for a tip from history on how things may turn out next weekend, this will only be the second Final Four held in the state of North Carolina. The first was in 1974 at Greensboro, when an in-state school, North Carolina State, ended UCLA's seven-year run as national champion.