Where some of the NCAA Tournament’s final floors wound up

03/29/2014 6:20 PM

03/29/2014 6:20 PM

NCAA Tournament games were once played on floors supplied by the arena or campus gym, but for the past three decades or so, courts for the Final Fours and other rounds of the NCAA Tournament are specially made, used for a few days and sold off.

Here’s the path of some of the final floors over the years:

1939: Patten Gym, Evanston, Ill.

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Highlight:

Oregon’s “Tall Furs” defeated Ohio State, winning the first NCAA basketball championship.

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The floor:

The title game was played in Patten Gym on the campus of Northwestern University. The building was torn down in 1940 and the floor went into a new structure, which is used today for intramural and club sports. A university archivist said it was possible that original NCAA title game floor remains in use, but wasn’t certain.

1974: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C.

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Highlight:

David Thompson-led North Carolina State ended UCLA’s seven-year streak of NCAA titles in the semifinals and the Wolfpack went on to beat Marquette in the championship game.

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The floor:

It remains in the Coliseum and may be the oldest championship floor in use today. It’s not used as the court for ACC Tournament games but for high school and other amateur events.

1978: Checkerdome, St. Louis

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Highlight:

Jack Givens poured in 41 points for Kentucky, leading the Wildcats past Duke in the final. Arkansas, coached by Eddie Sutton, and Notre Dame were the semifinal losers.

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The floor:

Why was the state of Indiana outlined at midcourt? This was the floor used by the Indiana Hoosiers at Assembly Hall. Water damage had warped the Checkerdome’s floor and the call went out for a new court. Indiana obliged.

1979: Jon M. Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City

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Highlight:

The epic finals matchup between Michigan State’s Magic Johnson and Indiana State’s Larry Bird remains the highest-rated college basketball game of all-time.

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The floor:

The Final Four and title games were played on the home floor of the Utah Utes, and that court remained until 2004. The center jump circle was made into a table for the men’s locker room, but the table wasn’t part of a locker room remodeling and Utah officials say its whereabouts today are unknown.

1988: Kemper Arena, Kansas City

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Highlight:

Danny Manning and “The Miracles” of Kansas defeated favored Oklahoma 83-79.

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The floor:

Since 1995, it has been the home court for Haskell Indian Nations University, located less than two miles from the Kansas campus.

1991: Hoosier Dome, Indianapolis

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Highlight:

Duke pulled off a shocker, downing undefeated UNLV in the semifinals, and defeated Kansas in the final for coach Mike Krzyzewski’s first national championship.

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The floor:

Iowa real estate developer Jim Gardner led a group that bought the floor for $55,000 and sold the cut-up pieces as souvenirs. After this, the NCAA put a clause its contract with the floor manufacturer that courts couldn’t be sold to individuals for commercial purposes.

2000: RCA Dome, Indianapolis

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Highlight:

Mateen Cleaves led Michigan State and coach Tom Izzo to the program’s second national championship, defeating Florida in the final.

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The court:

The Spartans loved the floor so much, they bought it for the Breslin Center. A bronze plaque commemorating the championship was installed in the floor on the baseline, near the home team’s tunnel.

2003: Superdome, New Orleans

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Highlight:

Syracuse rode freshman Carmelo Anthony to the program’s first national title with victories over Texas and Kansas.

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The floor:

The Orange bought a new floor earlier in the year and didn’t need a new one. But Gateway Arena in Sioux City, Iowa, did. The floor was purchased for $75,000. Ironically, the final shot attempt for Kansas on the floor — after Hakim Warrick blocked Michael Lee’s shot in the title game — was taken by Kirk Hinrich, a Sioux City native.

2006: RCA Dome, Indianapolis

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Highlight:

The Florida mini-dynasty grabbed the first of two straight national championships, with Joakim Noah leading the way against UCLA in the final.

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The floor:

At a welcome-home party for the team at the O’Connell Center, a cover was lifted from the floor to reveal the Final Four court, complete with the championship markings. The court has been repainted, but the Gators still play on the same floor on which their first title was captured.

2013: Georgia Dome, Atlanta

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Highlight:

Louisville captured its first championship since 1986 by beating Michigan after coming back against Wichita State in the semifinals.

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The floor: For the second straight year, Northwestern Mutual, a corporate partner of the NCAA, purchased the floor, donating center court to Louisville as it did with 2012 champion Kentucky. The remainder of the floors were cut for souvenirs and sold, with proceeds going to pediatric cancer research.

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