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Simply an amazing semifinal night

SAN ANTONIO -- Parity was supposed to be the worst thing for college basketball.

The lack of star power was apparently going to ruin the game.

The NBA's early-entry draft was taking away the best players in college basketball, one, two, three and sometimes four seasons too soon.

Yet, here we were at the Alamodome on Saturday night, witnessing two of the most competitive Final Four games ever.

No one in the pressroom, or anyone who works today for the NCAA could ever remember both national semifinals going down to the final 30 seconds.

Sure, there have been plenty of great games, close games, games decided on the final shot. But never both games on Final Four Saturday.

Oh, and once again, shame on the media. All the five hours of heart-pumping action proved was how foolish we in the media can look when one game is billed to be so much larger than another.

Georgia Tech-Oklahoma State wasn't an undercard to Duke-Connecticut, but rather just the start to a sensational night.

Oklahoma State tied the game in the final 28 seconds on a John Lucas 3-pointer. Georgia Tech won the game with one second left on a Will Bynum layup.

Connecticut was down eight points with 3:28 remaining. The Huskies took the lead on an Emeka Okafor putback off his own miss with 25 seconds left. Free throws by Rashad Anderson and another one by Okafor iced the game in the final 12 seconds, before Chris Duhon's 3-pointer at the buzzer provided the final margin.

Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said this win might have been one of the Huskies' greatest ever. Uh, UConn did win the national title in '99, right? Well, five years later, the "rematch" offered plenty of intrigue -- as much as, if not more than, the original in Florida.

Okafor wrestled foul problems all night -- he didn't play the final 16 minutes of the first half because of two fouls and picked up his third four minutes into the second half. Yet he took over the game in the final 14 minutes by scoring 17 of his 18 points.

In this space, this win probably comes in a close second to the '99 national championship victory over Duke. That one gave the Huskies and Calhoun their only title. But this win might have been Calhoun's most satisfying. The comeback certainly was the most dramatic.

Georgia Tech's win was even more compelling.

"Nobody picked us to be this far, you didn't, nobody in this room did," Georgia Tech assistant coach Cliff Warren bellowed after the Yellow Jackets' win Saturday. "That's fine because our players played hard because of that."

The Yellow Jackets were a seventh-place pick in the preseason in the ACC. They won the Preseason NIT, with a semifinal win over Connecticut, and were one of the last handful of teams to get beat when Georgia took them out on Jan. 3.

The Yellow Jackets beat the Huskies, Louisiana-Lafayette, Texas Tech, and Saint Louis before New Year's. All four reached the postseason. All Georgia Tech did in the ACC was win at Wake Forest, Duke, and beat North Carolina twice (once at home and once in the ACC tournament).

So, why shouldn't the Yellow Jackets have a legitimate shot to beat Connecticut on Monday?

They do.

Connecticut's season turned on the loss to Georgia Tech. That's when the Huskies realized, as Josh Boone said Saturday, that they couldn't just show up and win. That's also when their free-throw shooting was exposed (10 of 30). That's when Okafor first suffered back spasms, playing 34 minutes but going 2 for 10, missing seven free throws and scoring only nine points.

So, you don't have to remind the Huskies that Georgia Tech is as formidable a foe as Duke.

Taliek Brown, the much-maligned senior point guard for the Huskies, said Monday's game is a payback game. But it's more than that because it's the national championship game.

There is no way that the Huskies won't anticipate this matchup as much as Duke. Georgia Tech has the size inside and on the perimeter to compete with Connecticut.

And the Yellow Jackets are even more confident now than they were in November in the Preseason NIT semifinals in New York.

So, we won't make the same mistake twice. Monday night could end up being the best national title game ever. Saturday was certainly the most competitive national semifinals.

Georgia Tech-Connecticut might not make the casual fan turn on his or her television Monday night, but ignoring what could end up being a classic would be a missed opportunity. Saturday was an indicator that college basketball is alive and well, regardless of the defections, the criticisms and the relative unknowns to the general public.

The game is all that matters. And, thus far, this Final Four has exceeded expectations.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.