ATLANTA – Around the Final Four and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details of everything surrounding the games.
Chilly, Soggy start
The Final Four coaches are making their first appearances in Atlanta on Thursday. Atlanta's spring weather? That's still at least a day or two away.
The city is all dressed up for college basketball's biggest event. Stages are set up and banners have been raised in Centennial Olympic Park, near the Georgia Dome where the games will be played, but the gloomy weather put an early damper on the festive spirit.
Fans arriving early for the Final Four found soggy and cold conditions in Atlanta. The forecast called for temperatures to remain below 50 on Thursday. Low clouds covered the top of the skyscrapers in downtown Atlanta, where all the Final Four activities are planned. Brisk winds and light rain added to the gloom.
At least it's not as bad as Atlanta's infamous Super Bowl freeze. An ice storm made travel through downtown treacherous in January 2000 for the Super Bowl between the St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans.
This week's forecast is more promising. The rain is expected to leave by Friday, when the projected high is 62 degrees. Saturday will look more like spring, with a forecast for sun and a high in the low 70s.
— Charles Odum — http://twitter.com/@CharlesOdum
Quick quote: "Thrown a ball'
"I have thrown a ball but it's usually up in the stands and last time I did it, I hurt my arm, so I don't do it anymore. I literally could not watch that video."
— Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim on former Rutgers coach Mike Rice, who was fired Wednesday after a video surfaced of him hitting, shoving, throwing basketballs at his players and berating them and with anti-gay slurs.
— Eddie Pells — http://twitter.com/@epells
Mayor's not-so Final Four
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed owes a friendly apology to Louisville, Syracuse and Wichita State as he welcomes them to the Final Four. The mayor, whose tournament bracket is on public display near the Georgia Dome, correctly had Michigan coming out of the South region, but he had Duke, New Mexico and Miami joining the Wolverines.
Reed predicted that Syracuse and overall favorite Louisville would lose in the Sweet 16. He owes the biggest mea culpa to Wichita, the No. 9 seed out of the West. Reed predicted the Shockers would drop their opening game to Pitt.
— Bill Barrow — http://twitter.com/@BillBarrowAP
Boxers or briefs? Orange or blue?
Michigan coach John Beilein, a native of Burt, N.Y., still has family and friends who might have mixed loyalties when his Wolverines play Syracuse in the Final Four on Saturday night.
Beilein says fans might be keeping some loyalties well-hidden — say under a layer or two of clothing.
"I've called an old friend of mine on the way down and said, 'What color are you wearing?'" Beilein said. "'Do you have orange underwear on with the blue shirt over the top'"
Beilein said he doesn't mind if his old friends sneak in a little Syracuse orange with Michigan blue.
"It's a great thing for everybody to have," he said. "There's a lot to talk about after a tough winter, in western New York, central New York. I just think it's all good. It's just all good."
— Charles Odum
It's been a memorable week for Rick Pitino.
Pitino is coaching Louisville in the Final Four, and on Wednesday his son Richard was named head coach at Minnesota.
So Thursday's question for Pitino: Which was the bigger event?
"They're both exciting," Pitino said after pausing to consider the question. "I'm very proud and happy for Richard ... so it's been a great week for our family."
— Charles Odum
NCAA Finals Watch follows the Final Four games and all the activities surrounding the event as seen by journalists from The Associated Press from across Atlanta. It will be updated throughout the day with breaking news and other items of interest. Follow AP reporters on Twitter where available.