This is Indianapolis’ eighth Final Four, and seventh to be broadcast by CBS.
Jim Nantz is doing his 30th Final Four and his first one was in the old RCA Dome in 1991, when Duke upset undefeated UNLV in the semifinals and then Kanas in the final.
Nantz said he drove around the Butler campus the day of the game and then was able to find an open door at Hinkle Fieldhouse so that he could go in and take a look.
“You could just feel there was something magical happening with that team throughout the ride to the championship game. If Hayward’s shot would have dropped, it would have been the greatest finish not only in tournament history but maybe in any sports championship history,” he said.
Clark Kellogg has had a front row seat to Indianapolis' metamorphosis from sleepy Midwest city to a thriving pro town that also serves as the NCAA’s home.
“There are a number of key folks that saw sports as a way to drive economic development and to enhance the city. I mean the Indiana Sports Corporation is the forerunner for the sports commissions you see across the country now,” Kellogg said. “That was an amazing period of growth based on the vision and leadership of some key people.”
Grant Hill was on the 1991 Duke team that gave Mike Krzyzewski his first of five NCAA championships. His first Final Four as a CBS analyst was in 2015, when his alma mater beat Wisconsin in the championship game.
Indianapolis had already hosted three Final Fours before it became the NCAA’s home base, but the contract guaranteed the city would be a part of the regular rotation.
Bill Raftery and Tracy Wolfson have fond memories from Arizona’s title run in 1997. Raftery was the radio analyst when the Wildcats denied Kentucky’s bid for repeat titles with an overtime victory.
Raftery was close friends with Arizona coach Lute Olson and remembered the players messing Olson’s perfectly combed gray hair.