In case you missed it, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee released its selections for Final Four sites from 2023 through 2026 yesterday. The cities receiving bids were Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio and Indianapolis, respectively, while Detroit, Los Angeles (Sorry, John), and North Texas just missed the cut. The next eight years of Final Fours will look like this:
2019: Minneapolis - Predicted National Champion: Syracuse
2020: Atlanta - Predicted National Champion: Syracuse
2021: Indianapolis - Predicted National Champion: Syracuse
2022: New Orleans - Predicted National Champion: Syracuse
2023: Houston - Predicted National Champion: Syracuse
2024: Phoenix - Predicted National Champion: Syracuse
2025: San Antonio - Predicted National Champion: Syracuse
2026: Indianapolis - Predicted National Champion: Syracuse
In all seriousness, let’s hope that the Syracuse Orange can make another one or two of these. If history teaches us anything, it’s that history teaches us nothing at all, but the Orange have already been to Final Fours in a few of these cities. You’d have to figure that the Jim Boeheim era would end (conversation for a later date) somewhere around 2022 or 2023 with the host cities being New Orleans (wouldn’t that be some kind of poetic?) or Houston.
But without delving too far into detail, we take a look back at Syracuse Final Fours in their respective cities.
1975 San Diego - San Diego Sports Arena
Syracuse would make its first Final Four in 1975 behind Jim Lee and Rudy Hackett along with with Jim Boeheim as assistant coach. The then Orangemen headed out to the West Coast where it would compete at San Diego Sports Arena, currently Valley View Casino Center. The Orange would lose Kentucky in the national semifinals while the Wildcats went on to lose to UCLA in the National Championship in what would be John Wooden’s final game.
While San Diego would make for a great Final Four host city, college basketball’s final weekend has outgrown the city with limited basketball seating capacity. Viejas is a nice consolation for opening rounds games, however.
1987 - New Orleans - Louisiana (Mercedes-Benz) Superdome
Syracuse made it to the National Championship game and Keith effin Smart. That’s all.
Louisana has become a bit of a staple hosting the Final Four, to which it has already done so five times. Syracuse probably should have made it there in 2012, but nonetheless, the Superdome holds almost 70,000, solid for Final Fours and a host city that media seems to enjoy.
1996 - East Rutherford - Izod Center
In Jim Boeheim’s second Final Four, Syracuse largely overachieved in tournament play and advanced all the way to the National Championship game. On the opposite side, Kentucky was a force to be reckoned with and eventually took down the John Wallace led Orangemen.
The 1996 Final Four was the first and last that would be hosted by the state of New Jersey. Can’t really see that panning out any time soon unless MetLife Stadium finds a dome.
2003 - New Orleans - Louisiana (Mercedes-Benz) Superdome
The most illustrious season in Syracuse basketball history. The youth of Carmelo Anthony, Hakim Warrick and Gerry McNamara coupled with the veteran play of Kueth Duany led Syracuse to its first National Title.
New Orleans is a solid host city as mentioned above. More Bourbon Street and jamabalaya, please.
2013 - Atlanta - Georgia Dome
Brandon Triche, Michael Carter-Williams, CJ Fair and James Southerland did the heavy lifting in getting Syracuse to its fifth Final Four in 2013. Don’t look now but Syracuse just got whistled for another charge.
The Georgia Dome has seating capacity for over 70,000 in a basketball setting and Atlanta is one of the top ten most populous cities in the U.S. — peaches aren’t quite as good as oranges, but it’ll do.
2016 - Houston - NRG Stadium
Syracuse had no business making the 2016 Final Four, so Syracuse went ahead and made the 2016 Final Four behind a fifth-year senior laden backcourt with Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney.
Houston has hosted the Final Four twice already and the regionals a handful of times. Post hurricane Harvey, it’s good to see the city get back on the board for 2023 despite some complaining of how difficult Houston is to navigate. NRG seats over 70,000 as well for basketball.
Additional commentary from John:
All kidding aside, I do get why L.A. didn’t make the cut. The new Hollywood Park NFL stadium in Inglewood is not all that close to our barely existing public transportation or the hotel accommodations you’ll find in other parts of town. We also don’t have a “central” area for fan activities, really, unless you count L.A. Live where the Staples Center is (which isn’t all that close to Inglewood especially when accounting for traffic).
But moving onto the places Syracuse would most favor, based on previous successes:
New Orleans (2022)
It’s New Orleans, for one. For two, we’ve won a championship there already (and played for another). Please go back to NOLA, SU. I need an excuse to return to that city after last year’s side trip from Baton Rouge.
It would be even better to go back to my favorite Texas city as a favorite, versus an upstart team no one wants to win the national championship (as was the case in 2016).
As evidenced in 2013, there’s already a strong Orange contingent down in Georgia and they’d certainly show up for a repeat trip to the Final Four. Hopefully this one doesn’t end with a b.s. charge call.
No reason other than selfishly putting the Final Four driving distance from me. If you’re not doing Los Angeles, do me this favor.
Where would you like to see Syracuse appear in the Final Four (other than “any of these cities are fine”)?