- Andy Katz, ESPN.com Senior Writer
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Oklahoma State vs. Georgia Tech.
Duke vs. Connecticut.
One night. Two national semifinals. Four teams with the same opportunity to win the 2004 national championship.
So, let's dispense with any talk of one being the JV game and the other reserved for the varsity Saturday night. Let CBS bill Saturday's doubleheader as such. Let executives make the decision to show the 1999 title game rematch as Saturday's nightcap.
But don't even begin to throw out that the Final Four should be re-seeded. If Duke-Connecticut is what the masses want, well they will get it. It'll just come in the semifinals.
And, what's wrong with that?
Besides, there is no reason to re-seed this year's Final Four. The committee's highest remaining seeds are on opposite sides of the bracket. Remember, on Selection Sunday it was Oklahoma State that was ranked as the best No. 2 seed -- not UConn.
So, re-seeding the Final Four would just mean Duke's semifinal foe would be ACC rival Georgia Tech, while the Cowboys and Huskies would play. Chances of a Duke-Connecticut title game would be a tossup at best.
Here are some certainties entering the long week of hype.
Forget the seeds, Connecticut is the team to beat: The Huskies cruised to the Final Four, crushing their opponents along the path to San Antonio by an average of 17.5 points a game. Connecticut didn't get much of a game in Phoenix from either of the SEC foes Vanderbilt or Alabama.
Then again, UConn wasn't just built to get to the Final Four, but rather to win its second national title in six years.
If 100 percent, which UConn expects Emeka Okafor to be in a week, the Huskies have arguably the most dominant big man in San Antonio. They've got the best shooting guard in Ben Gordon. And they've got the hottest 3-point shooter in Rashad Anderson.
The Huskies' season was very similar to the team favored in the preseason to win the NBA title -- the Los Angeles Lakers. UConn survived a few bumps in January and February, only to gear up for a major push through the postseason. Make no mistake, this team has had a clear mission from the first day of practice. Its focus has been San Antonio, and now there, it looks like UConn will achieve its goal of cutting the nets down in the Alamodome.
Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun has a photo on his desk of the Huskies on a boat in San Antonio from last season's regionals. He said he kept it there as a reminder of this season's goal. Well, they'll be back for another photo. We'll see if this one includes a trophy.
Oklahoma State a healthy choice: Just when it appeared Okafor had put a stress fracture in his back behind him, a "stinger" to his right shoulder has Connecticut monitoring Okafor's health throughout the week. Don't expect Okafor to practice much this week, if at all, as he gets ready for the Duke game on Saturday.
Speaking of Duke, senior point guard Chris Duhon continues to play with bruised ribs. He didn't show any signs of being in pain during Sunday's win over Xavier. But the Duke staff said he wouldn't be 100 percent until he can rest. And that will be after the Final Four.
Georgia Tech got to the Final Four without its top scorer in B.J. Elder (sprained ankle) doing much of anything in the St. Louis region. He's got a week to get the ankle healthy, but the Yellow Jackets will be gauging his progress hourly.
So, this leaves Oklahoma State as the only team arriving in San Antonio without a major injury. It could also mean the Cowboys leave the Final Four feeling fine.
Eddie Sutton's last stand? The Oklahoma State head coach could be making his last Final Four appearance. The Cowboys won't be nearly as good next season when Tony Allen leaves. Senior Ivan McFarlin is listed as a senior but has earned back his fourth season of eligibility. Sure, John Lucas and Joey Graham will be back, but the Cowboys will miss the Big 12 player of the year. It's the third trip to the Final Four for the 68-year-old Sutton. It may ultimately be his last chance to add a national title to a Hall of Fame resume.
Duke's Mike Krzyzewski is making his 10th trip to the Final Four. He'll likely be back again, possibly next season if Shaun Livingston decides to honor his national letter of intent instead of going to the NBA and Luol Deng decides to stick around.
Connecticut's Jim Calhoun will lose Okafor and possibly Gordon. But the Huskies are restocked next season, and Calhoun doesn't seem like he's going anywhere anytime soon. Sure, it's only his second Final Four appearance, but I've got a hunch that it's not his last.
Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt has the look of a coach who will likely make this Final Four thing a habit. He can talk to Florida's Billy Donovan and Marquette's Tom Crean about how hard it is to get back after this week, but Hewitt still has the potential for several more trips.
So, if Sutton is making his final trip to the Final Four, does that mean he'll win it? No, but it does mean that the players will be playing for him. The Cowboys talk affectionately about winning a title for Sutton. His age and legendary status in Stillwater are legitimate added incentives.
A 50-50 chance for ACC: Two of the Final Four teams are from this season's best conference. There is no more debating that statement. The ACC gets the crown of being the best league in 2004 whether or not it takes home the national title next Monday night in San Antonio. But, both Duke and Georgia Teach are faced with monumental challenges.
Duke has to get through the favorite in Connecticut, even though the Blue Devils are the only remaining top seed. Georgia Tech has to get through one of the hottest teams in the country going into the tournament. Oklahoma State is a grizzled, veteran, tough group that will get in the grill of every Yellow Jacket.
Georgia Tech won the Preseason NIT, beating Connecticut in the semifinals. If the Yellow Jackets do get into a matchup with the Huskies, they won't be intimidated. Duke? Well, the Blue Devils don't run from anyone.
The ACC can be proud of this season and its two Final Four berths. But getting a title out of it will be the toughest task to date.
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
Forget re-seeding the Final Four. And while you're at it, forget calling UConn-Duke the real championship game.