Final Four

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the four remaining play-off teams that compete for the U.S. men's or women's college basketball championship, awarded by the NCAA.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is the Final Four?

The Final Four is the nickname of the final round of both the men’s and women’s NCAA Division I basketball tournaments, which are single-elimination tournaments to determine the U.S. national champion. It’s named for the fact that there are four teams left at that point in the tournament.

The men’s tournament (nicknamed March Madness) features 67 games between 68 teams. The main tournament bracket includes 64 teams. Four teams must earn a spot on the main bracket by winning one of four games, which are called play-in games and known as the First Four. The women’s tournament features 64 teams.

Because the tournaments are single-elimination (meaning a team is eliminated upon losing a game), the field of teams is reduced by half each round, from 64 in the first round to 32 in the second round, which is followed by rounds named after the number of teams left: the Sweet Sixteen, the Elite Eight, and the Final Four. The final two teams play in the National Championship game.

The tournament bracket is divided into four quadrants, with the winner of each section going on to compete in the Final Four.

The term Final Four is sometimes used casually in other contexts, such as high school basketball tournaments. However, it is trademarked by the NCAA.

When is the Final Four?

The NCAA tournament begins around mid-March and takes place over a course of about two and a half weeks. The Final Four and the National Championship game are usually held during the first week of April.

For the men’s tournament, the first two games of the 2023 Final Four will be held on Saturday, April 1, with the National Championship game being held on Monday, April 3. The first two games of the 2024 Final Four will be played on April 6, with the National Championship game on April 8.

The first two games of the 2023 Women’s Final Four will be held on Friday, March 31, with the National Championship game being held on Sunday, April 2. The first two games of the 2024 Women’s Final Four will be played on April 5, with the National Championship game on April 7.

More information and context on the Final Four

The first NCAA men’s college basketball tournament was held in 1939, with eight teams competing. But it wasn’t until 1978 that the NCAA started using the term Final Four to refer to the final round and the final four teams competing in the tournament.

What are some terms that often get used in discussing the Final Four?

How is Final Four discussed in real life?

The phrase Final Four is a reference to the four remaining teams in the tournament, but it’s typically used as the name of the final round of the tournament, as in Villanova is going to the Final Four! 


Try using Final Four!

True or False?

The term Final Four refers to the final four games of the NCAA tournament.

How to use Final Four in a sentence