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How to qualify for ncaa basketball tournament

March Madness | The TwinSpires Edge


college basketball

Since 1939, the men’s NCAA Division I basketball tournament, or March Madness, has been held annually at the end of college basketball’s regular season. The single-elimination tournament is one of the most watched sporting events in the United States and generates a ton of betting action across the country.

Below you will find all the stats and info you need to gear up for college basketball’s highly anticipated postseason competition. 

Gonzaga Bulldogs


Kentucky Wildcats


Arizona Wildcats


Auburn Tigers


Purdue Boilermakers


Baylor Bears


Duke Blue Devils


Kansas Jayhawks


UCLA Bruins


Illinois Fighting Illini


When is the 2022 NCAA tournament?

March Madness will begin on Tuesday, March 15 at 4 p. m. ET, with the First Four—or play-in—stage of competition. The official first round, featuring 64 teams, will take place Thursday and Friday, March 17-18, before the round of 32 on Saturday and Sunday, March 19-20.

The Sweet 16 and Elite 8 occur the following weekend, March 24 through March 27. Caesars Superdome in New Orleans will host the Final Four, which includes the national semifinal championship game on the evening of Monday, April 4.

First Four

March 15-16

First Round

March 17-18

Second Round

March 19-20

Sweet 16

March 24-25

Elite Eight

March 26-27

Final Four

April 2

National Championship Game

April 4

Who can make the NCAA tournament?

In order to qualify for March Madness, a Division I college basketball team must either win its conference tournament or receive an “at-large” bid from the NCAA tournament selection committee.

A total of 68 teams play in the tournament, with 32 of those teams earning an automatic bid by winning their conference tournament. The 36 remaining tournament bids are granted by the selection committee and are revealed on Selection Sunday.

The committee is also in charge of seeding and placing each team in one of four regions of the tournament bracket: the East, West, Midwest and South. Each region will be seeded 1-16.

The selection committee is currently comprised of eight athletic directors and two conference commissioners in Division I men’s and women’s athletics. Members serve a five-year term.

Duncan Robinson (22) of the Michigan Wolverines cuts down the net to celebrate the victory during the NCAA Division I Men's Championship Elite Eight round basketball game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Michigan Wolverines. (Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire)

How can I watch the NCAA tournament?

truTV and TBS will air the First Four, then split first- and second-round coverage with CBS, TBS, and TNT.  

TBS and CBS will televise the Sweet 16 and Elite, while the Final Four and NCAA National Championship Game can be found exclusively on CBS.

How long are March Madness games?

March Madness will follow the standard rules of a regular-season college basketball game, with two 20-minute halves. The overtime period is five minutes long and may be repeated as many times as necessary to determine a winner.

What is the Final Four?

The Elite Eight will decide the champion of each of the four regions in the NCAA tournament. The winner from the East, West, Midwest and South move on to the Final Four to play in the national semifinal games. 

The Final Four includes both the semifinal round and the championship game on Monday, April 5.

Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Shutterstock)

Where is the Final Four?

Caesars Superdome, home to the New Orleans Saints, will host the Final Four from April 2-4.

What time is the national championship game?

Tipoff of the national championship game is scheduled for 9 p. m. ET Eastern on Monday, April 4.





North Carolina


















Michigan State


From 1964 to 1995, the UCLA Bruins accumulated 11 national championship titles, 10 of those under head coach John Wooden.

The University of Kentucky, a longtime elite program in college basketball, earned its first championship in 1948 and most recent in 2012. ACC schools North Carolina and Duke are neck-and-neck for titles, with six and five, respectively, and have each won one in the last five years.

The Indiana Hoosiers also rank high with five championships, but the school hasn't experienced the NCAA's ultimate glory since 1987, with head coach Bob Knight.

The University of Louisville hung championship banners in 1980 and 1986 with head coach Denny Crum, and again in 2013 with Rick Pitino. However, because of NCAA violations, the school had to vacate its 2013 championship and two Final Four appearances. Louisville is the only school in NCAA history to have a men's basketball championship vacated.

John Wooden


Mike Krzyzewski (active)


Adolph Rupp


Roy Williams (active)


Jim Calhoun


Bob Knight


Jay Wright (active)


Denny Crum


Billy Donovan


UCLA head coach John Wooden's record of 10 national championships may never be touched, but "Coach K" (Mike Krzyzewski) is hot on his track, with five. The Duke basketball coach's teams regularly rank in the AP Top 25 poll and are often considered one of the favorites in the NCAA tournament each year.

A statue of former Purdue Boilermaker player John Wooden is seen outside of Mackey Arena. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire)

Kentucky legend Adolph Rupp led the school to the Promised Land four times (1948, 1949, 1951 and 1958) during his tenure. There is a three-way tie for fourth-most wins, as UConn's Jim Calhoun, Indiana's Bob Knight, and Roy Williams each own three titles. Williams collected his trio of banners with North Carolina in 2005, 2009 and 2017. He also guided the Kansas Jayhawks to a national title game, where they fell to Syracuse in 2003.







Big Ten


Big 12


American Athletic


Big East


Based on current conference membership, the ACC owns the most NCAA titles. North Carolina, Duke, North Carolina State, Louisville, Syracuse and Virginia have each claimed at least one national championship. The Cavaliers most recently won the tournament in 2019.

The Oregon Ducks of the Pac-12 triumphed in the first national championship game in 1939. Since then, the Pac-12 has earned 16 titles among Stanford, Utah, Cal, UCLA and Arizona. UCLA won seven in a row from 1967-1973, then again in 1975, the last season Wooden coached for the Bruins. Wooden also achieved back-to-back titles in 1964 and 1965.

When is Selection Sunday?

Selection Sunday will take place on Sunday, March 13 at 6 p.m. ET,  and will air on CBS.

How does seeding work?

The selection committee will offer 36 at-large bids to the NCAA tournament in addition to 32 automatic bids for those teams that won their conference tournament. 

The committee will look at record, strength of schedule and quality of wins and losses, among other factors, to rank the field of teams from 1 to 68. Theoretically, the top four teams will earn the No. 1 seeds, and the next four on the list will receive the No. 2 seeds, and so on.

The committee strives for balance in each of the East, West, Midwest and South regions. The overall No. 1 seed should play the weakest No. 2 seed, and that pattern should follow down the line from the No. 3 seeds to No. 16 seeds for each region. 

What is the First Four?  

In 2011, the NCAA expanded the men's tournament to 68 teams and added a "First Four" play-in stage that included eight teams. Those eight teams hold the four lowest-seeded automatic bids and four lowest-seeded at-large bids.

The four winners of the First Four games move on to the field of 64 to compete in the first round of the tournament.

From 1985 to 2001, the NCAA tournament followed a 64-team format, until the Mountain West Conference joined Division I. To accomodate an additional automatic bid, which bumped the field to 65, the NCAA created one play-in game before the opening round. Since the arrival of the First Four in 2011, the tournament has maintained the same 68-team format.

The University of Dayton Arena in Ohio is the annual host site of the First Four games.

How many rounds are in the NCAA tournament?

There are six rounds of the NCAA tournament, not including the First Four play-in round.

Sixty-four teams participate in the first round. From there, the field is narrowed down to 32 for the second round of competition.

The third round is referred to as the Sweet 16, or regional semifinal, and the fourth round is best known as the Elite Eight or regional final. 

The fifth round, or national semifinal, is part of the Final Four, as is the sixth round, the national championship game.

Where can I download a March Madness bracket?

You can fill our our official TwinSpires Sports downloadable March Madness bracket by clicking here.

It's been estimated that around 70 million brackets are filled out each year across the country for company or family pools and nationwide contests.

The odds of filling out a perfect bracket are about 1 in 120.6 billion—if you know something about basketball. If you filled out your bracket by flipping a coin or blindly guessing, your odds are much higher.

No one has filled out a perfect bracket—that we know of—in the history of the NCAA tournament.

NCAA Final Four Betting Trends

20 of the last 21 Final Four Champions Have Been East Coast Teams

The only team that could be considered following in this trend for this year’s Final Four is Virginia. With a state that does touch the East Coast, does the basketball world truly count Virginia as an East Coast team? Michigan State is from the Midwest, while Auburn is from the South and Texas Tech is a Southwest team, thus they would not come as close to fitting the mold. If the Cavaliers fit the narrative of East Coast, then the trend could very well continue to prove true.

Favorites Usually Dominate in Final Four Semifinals

If this trend holds, Michigan State will beat Texas Tech and Virginia will beat Auburn. I’ve got Texas Tech upsetting MSU and Auburn upsetting UVA. So, I’ve thrown out this trend!

Underdogs Have Performed Well in the Finals

UNC won as a favorite in 2017. Last year, Villanova won as the favorite. But, before those two chalked it up, Nova beat North Carolina as a dog in 2016, Duke upset Wisconsin as a slight dog in 2015, and Connecticut upset Kentucky as a major underdog in 2014.

Will any of the three trends listed above hold? Or, will Auburn and Texas Tech prove best? Get your popcorn ready and watch one of the greatest sports events in the U.S., the annual NCAA College Basketball Final Four!

NCAA Final Four Notable Games

1975 National Championship – UCLA 92, Kentucky 85

The great John Wooden won his final championship. It was the Wizard of Westwood’s 10th title.

1979 National Championship – Michigan State 75, Indiana State 64

Magic and Bird started one of the most important rivalries in NBA history while still in college.

1983 National Championship – NC State 54, Houston 52

NC State upset Phi Slamma Jamma with a last-second shot, handing Jimmy Valvano the NCAA Final Four trophy. Valvano would end up starting the Jimmy V. Foundation, one of the most important cancer research non-profit organizations in the world.

1985 National Championship – Villanova 66, Georgetown 64

Villanova beats Georgetown in one of the biggest upsets in Final Four history.

1991 National Championship – Duke 72, Kansas 65

Coach Mike Krzyzewski wins his first of five national championships by beating Roy Williams- coached Kansas. The Blue Devils upset heavily favored UNLV in the semifinals. Today, Williams coaches North Carolina, which means Coach K and Williams have continued the rivalry that started in 1991.

2022 College Basketball Championship Regions and Dates

  • Regions: South, East, West, Midwest
  • Inaugural Game: March 17, 1939
  • Current Number of Teams Participating: 68
  • 2022 NCAA National Championship Location: Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • 2022 NCAA National Championship Date: Monday, April 4, 2022

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Top Questions

What is March Madness?

March Madness is an informal term that refers to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I men’s and women’s basketball championship tournaments that begin each March and consist of fields of 64 (for the women’s) and 68 (for the men’s) teams.

How are March Madness teams selected?

In March Madness, the single-elimination tournaments begin each March and consist of fields of women’s and men’s teams that qualify either by winning their conference title or by being chosen as an at-large entry by the National Collegiate Athletic Association's selection committee.

When was the first March Madness tournament?

The first men’s tournament of what eventually became known as March Madness was held in 1939. The NCAA tournament gradually began to draw top teams and more television revenue over the next two decades. The first women’s tournament was a 32-team event held in 1982.

March Madness, informal term that refers to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I men’s and women’s basketball championship tournaments and the attendant fan interest in—and media coverage of—the events. The single-elimination tournaments begin each March and consist of fields of 64 (for the women’s tournament) and 68 (for the men’s) teams that qualify either by winning their conference title or by being chosen as an at-large entry by the NCAA’s selection committee.

The first men’s tournament was held in 1939, but it was overshadowed for most of the first two decades of its existence by the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), which was considered more prestigious and usually featured the best teams in the country. The NCAA tournament gradually began to draw the top teams and more television revenue, and, by the time the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), began its record run of seven consecutive titles in 1967, the tournament was firmly established as the premier college basketball postseason championship series in the United States. The size of the tournament field increased incrementally from 8 teams in 1939 to 64 teams in 1985. A 65th team and corresponding “play-in game” were added in 2001, when a new conference with an automatically qualifying champion was created and the NCAA did not want to lower the number of high-profile at-large schools it could invite to the tournament. In 2011 the NCAA added three additional opening-round games to the field, bringing the field to 68 teams. The first women’s tournament was a 32-team event held in 1982, and it expanded to its current field of 64 in 1994.

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The men’s tournament format (not including the play-in games) consists of four subsets known as regions, each of which contains 16 teams that are seeded number 1 to number 16 by the selection committee and then matched up according to seed, with the number 1 seed playing number 16, number 2 playing number 15, and so on. (The selection committee generally comprises university athletic directors and conference commissioners.) Two of the four first-round games pit the four lowest-seeded teams (often the champions of the smallest conferences in the NCAA) against each other to determine two of the 16 seeds, while the other two first-round games feature the final four at-large teams, which are traditionally 11 or 12 seeds. The second- and third-round games take place later in the first week of the tournament at eight geographically dispersed sites, and the 16 teams that move on to the second week (having won both their second- and third-round games) are referred to as the “Sweet Sixteen.” These remaining teams then proceed to four regional sites and are further winnowed to an “Elite Eight” and a “Final Four,” the last of which advances to yet another location for the national semifinals and finals in the third week of the competion. The sizable field often produces pairings of large schools from highly regarded conferences with smaller automatic qualifiers that may result in first-round upsets, which can then lead to underdog teams (known as “Cinderellas”) advancing far in the tournament.

It is a common practice for fans to fill out tournament brackets with their predictions before the event begins and to enter their brackets into office pools (or on the Internet) with friends and coworkers. Studies have shown that American workers become less productive during March Madness, as large numbers of basketball fans frequently monitor the status of their brackets or discuss the tournament (or even watch the games) while on the job.

Winners of the men’s and women’s NCAA Division 1 basketball tournaments are provided in the tables.

Division I National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship—women
year winner runner-up score
*Tournament canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
1982 Louisiana Tech Cheney (Pa.) 76–62
1983 Southern California Louisiana Tech 69–67
1984 Southern California Tennessee 72–61
1985 Old Dominion Georgia 70–65
1986 Texas Southern California 97–81
1987 Tennessee Louisiana Tech 67–44
1988 Louisiana Tech Auburn 56–54
1989 Tennessee Auburn 76–60
1990 Stanford Auburn 88–81
1991 Tennessee Virginia 70–67
1992 Stanford Western Kentucky 78–62
1993 Texas Tech Ohio State 84–82
1994 North Carolina Louisiana Tech 60–59
1995 Connecticut Tennessee 70–64
1996 Tennessee Georgia 83–65
1997 Tennessee Old Dominion 68–59
1998 Tennessee Louisiana Tech 93–75
1999 Purdue Duke 62–45
2000 Connecticut Tennessee 71–52
2001 Notre Dame Purdue 68–66
2002 Connecticut Oklahoma 82–70
2003 Connecticut Tennessee 73–68
2004 Connecticut Tennessee 70–61
2005 Baylor Michigan State 84–62
2006 Maryland Duke 78–75
2007 Tennessee Rutgers 59–46
2008 Tennessee Stanford 64–48
2009 Connecticut Louisville 76–54
2010 Connecticut Stanford 53–47
2011 Texas A&M Notre Dame 76–70
2012 Baylor Notre Dame 80–61
2013 Connecticut Louisville 93–60
2014 Connecticut Notre Dame 79–58
2015 Connecticut Notre Dame 63–53
2016 Connecticut Syracuse 82–51
2017 South Carolina Mississippi State 67–55
2018 Notre Dame Mississippi State 61–58
2019 Baylor Notre Dame 82–81
2020 not held*
2021 Stanford Arizona 54–53
2022 South Carolina Connecticut 64–49

Division I National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Championship—men
year winner runner-up score
*Louisville's title was vacated in 2018 because of rules violations committed between 2011 and 2015.
**Tournament canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
1939 Oregon Ohio State 46–43
1940 Indiana Kansas 60–42
1941 Wisconsin Washington State 39–34
1942 Stanford Dartmouth 53–38
1943 Wyoming Georgetown 46–34
1944 Utah Dartmouth 42–40
1945 Oklahoma A&M New York 49–45
1946 Oklahoma A&M North Carolina 43–40
1947 Holy Cross Oklahoma 58–47
1948 Kentucky Baylor 58–42
1949 Kentucky Oklahoma State 46–36
1950 CCNY Bradley 71–68
1951 Kentucky Kansas State 68–58
1952 Kansas St. John's (N.Y.) 80–63
1953 Indiana Kansas 69–68
1954 La Salle Bradley 92–76
1955 San Francisco La Salle 77–63
1956 San Francisco Iowa 83–71
1957 North Carolina Kansas 54–53
1958 Kentucky Seattle 84–72
1959 California (Berkeley) West Virginia 71–70
1960 Ohio State California (Berkeley) 75–55
1961 Cincinnati Ohio State 70–65
1962 Cincinnati Ohio State 71–59
1963 Loyola (Ill. ) Cincinnati 60–58
1964 UCLA Duke 98–83
1965 UCLA Michigan 91–80
1966 Texas Western Kentucky 72–65
1967 UCLA Dayton 79–64
1968 UCLA North Carolina 78–55
1969 UCLA Purdue 92–72
1970 UCLA Jacksonville 80–69
1971 UCLA Villanova 68–62
1972 UCLA Florida State 81–76
1973 UCLA Memphis State 87–66
1974 North Carolina State Marquette 76–64
1975 UCLA Kentucky 92–85
1976 Indiana Michigan 86–68
1977 Marquette North Carolina 67–59
1978 Kentucky Duke 94–88
1979 Michigan State Indiana State 75–64
1980 Louisville UCLA 59–54
1981 Indiana North Carolina 63–50
1982 North Carolina Georgetown 63–62
1983 North Carolina State Houston 54–52
1984 Georgetown Houston 84–75
1985 Villanova Georgetown 66–64
1986 Louisville Duke 72–69
1987 Indiana Syracuse 74–73
1988 Kansas Oklahoma 83–79
1989 Michigan Seton Hall 80–79
1990 UNLV Duke 103–73
1991 Duke Kansas 72–65
1992 Duke Michigan 71–51
1993 North Carolina Michigan 77–71
1994 Arkansas Duke 76–72
1995 UCLA Arkansas 89–78
1996 Kentucky Syracuse 76–67
1997 Arizona Kentucky 84–79
1998 Kentucky Utah 78–69
1999 Connecticut Duke 77–74
2000 Michigan State Florida 89–76
2001 Duke Arizona 82–72
2002 Maryland Indiana 64–52
2003 Syracuse Kansas 81–78
2004 Connecticut Georgia Tech 82–73
2005 North Carolina Illinois 75–70
2006 Florida UCLA 73–57
2007 Florida Ohio State 84–75
2008 Kansas Memphis 75–68
2009 North Carolina Michigan State 89–72
2010 Duke Butler 61–59
2011 Connecticut Butler 53–41
2012 Kentucky Kansas 67–59
2013 Louisville* Michigan 82–76
2014 Connecticut Kentucky 60–54
2015 Duke Wisconsin 68–63
2016 Villanova North Carolina 77–74
2017 North Carolina Gonzaga 71–65
2018 Villanova Michigan 79–62
2019 Virginia Texas Tech 85–77
2020 not held**
2021 Baylor Gonzaga 86–70
2022 Kansas North Carolina 72–69

Adam Augustyn

Major Individual Basketball Tournament Awards NCAA / Collegiate Basketball Association

Naismith, Wooden and other legendary trophies.

In its more than eighty year history, the NCAA basketball tournament has acquired a huge number of rules and traditions.

One of the features of the NCAA is the variety of individual awards that can be won by the most successful student basketball players.

We invite you to get acquainted with the main national awards of the NCAA basketball tournament.

Nazmit for the best player of the year among students ( Naismith College Player Year) . The prize is named after the creator of basketball James Naismith .

This trophy was first presented to Lew Alcindor of UCLA in the 1968/69 season.

Since the 1982/83 season, this prize has been awarded to girls, the first winner of which was Ann Donovan from the Old Dominion University.

Only two players, Bill Walton and Ralph Sampson , have received this award three times each.

9 women won the award three times0003 Sheryl Miller and Brianna Stewart .

The current recipients of this award are Obadiah Toppin of the University of Dayton and Sabrina Ionescu of the University of Oregon.

The John R. Wooden Award is an annual basketball award given to the best student player of the year.

It is considered one of the most prestigious awards in college basketball along with the Naismith Trophy. The award is given to the best male and female player, the best coach, and the best team.

Presents the award to the Los Angeles Athletic Club, a non-profit organization dedicated to honoring the legacy of legendary UCLA Bruins coach John Wooden (1910-2010), for whom the club is named.

Originally only for men, the first recipient in 1997 was Marquez Johnson of UCLA. Since 2004, this award has been given to girls, the first to receive it was Alana Beard from Duke University.

Since 1999, the trophy has also been awarded to the best coach.

The current recipients of this award are Obadiah Toppin and Sabrina Ionescu .

The Oscar Robertson Trophy is an annual award that has been presented since 1959 for excellence in men's college basketball by the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA).

Oscar Robertson , Jerry Lucas , Lew Alcindor , Pete Maravich , Bill Walton and Ralph Sampson received the award three times and three times. Kevin Durant from the University of Texas in 2007 became the first freshman to receive this trophy, but in 2012 his achievement was repeated by Anthony Davis from the University of Kentucky, and in 2019 Zion Williamson from Duke University joined them.

College Basketball Player of the Year NABC (NABC Player of the Year) is an annual basketball award given by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) to the best student basketball player as voted.

The award was first presented in the 1974/75 season in the NCAA Division I. From season-1982/83, it also began to be awarded to the best basketball player among students in the second and third divisions of the NCAA. The award is sponsored by the American group of companies State Farm Insurance.

Only two players, Ralph Sampson and Jay Williams , have received the award twice each, while only Kevin Durant and Zion Williamson have won the award as freshmen.

Associated Press College Basketball Player of the Year is an annual basketball award given to the best basketball player in the NCAA Division I by voting results.

The award was established by the American news agency Associated Press. Its first owner was Jerry Lucas from Ohio State University at the end of the 1960/61 season.

Five players total: Jerry Lucas , Lew Alcindor , Bill Walton , David Thompson and Ralph Sampson from the University of Connecticut at the end of the 1994/95 season.

Collegiate Basketball Player of the Year Sporting News (Sporting News Men's College Basketball Player of the Year) is an annual basketball award given to the top NCAA Division I basketball player based on voting results.

This award was established by the American sports magazine Sporting News back in 1943!

Margaret Wade Prize ( Wade Trophy The is an annual award given to the best female player in the NCAA Division I. The award is sponsored by the State Farm Insurance group of companies.

The award is named after basketball coach Margaret Wade , who led the Delta State University team to national championship three times.

The prize was first awarded in 1978. It was the first individual award in women's collegiate basketball.

Maya Moore of the University of Connecticut is the only recipient of this award three times.

College Basketball Player of the Year USBWA (USBWA Women's National Player of the Year) is an annual basketball award voted on by the Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) for the best college basketball player.

The first recipient of this award was Sue Wicks from Rutgers University at the end of the 1987/1988 season.

Brianna Stewart of the University of Connecticut is the only three-time winner of this award.

Sasha from USA | Big Sports

At the European Championship in Lithuania, the Russian national basketball team stopped a step away from the final game and a ticket to the 2012 Olympics. CSKA center Alexander Kaun watched the game with France from home - an unpleasant injury closed the path to the continental championship for the NCAA champion.

At the European Championship in Lithuania, the Russian national basketball team stopped a step away from the final game and a ticket to the 2012 Olympics. CSKA center Alexander Kaun watched the game with France from home - an unpleasant injury closed the path to the continental championship for the NCAA champion. Alexander tells about how he worried about his native country, seven years in the USA and his American chosen one in an interview with Bolshoi Sport.

You comprehended the basics of basketball in not the most basketball city in the country - Tomsk. When you went to America on an exchange, did you plan to play or did study come first?

I came to basketball quite late, at the age of 14, so I did not play for long and did not have time to understand how much I needed this game. When I was 16, friends told me about the opportunity to study in the USA - at the Florida Air Academy. I didn’t think about basketball at all - I just wanted to leave Russia and get an education. Well, to learn the language - I didn’t know it very well. It was only during my studies that the coach noticed my height and invited me to training.

Is your academy somehow connected with aviation?

An ordinary private school with a slight bias towards the Air Force, with a circle for the training of aircraft pilots. They wore uniforms, there were formations, parades were held three or four times a year. And the rest - the usual school subjects.

As a result, your passion for basketball led to the fact that you were invited by the University of Kansas - one of the most basketball in the US.

Yes, I chose between him and two others - Duke and Iowa State. The teams of both these universities are very strong, but I chose the Kansas Jayhawks.

In which we became the only NCAA champion from Russia!

Indeed. Moreover, in Kansas, I played the role of the main center for a long time, and in 2008, victorious, I began to play from the bench. The team needed a sixth player who would come out in the fifth or sixth minute and give impetus to the game. I became him, and it didn’t bother me, since the number of minutes on the site has not changed.

I think that the problem of a long season for players of national teams simply needs to be addressed. Playing 11 months a year is wrong, the doctors here agree with me. Sacrificing the playoffs is not the best idea, you need to shorten the season somehow. The ideal option is to make the Final Four of the Euroleague the last club competition, and finish everything else before it

It turns out that you were the main center of the team - the winner of the forge of American basketball. But they were selected only at the end of the second round of the draft…

Two factors played here: age and a contract with CSKA. In the draft, they prefer to choose younger guys, for the future, and I was already 23. Well, the contract signed with the European club two weeks before the talent fair had a negative impact on the final number. Who needs a player who doesn't plan to play?

Why were you in a hurry? Didn't want to stay in the NBA, and closer to your future wife?

I really wanted to try myself in my native Russia, where I had never played at an adult level. And then immediately an offer from the great CSKA. And not the worst in financial terms - I will not hide the fact that the money issue mattered. In the early years in the NBA, I certainly would not have received as much as in Moscow.

How do you like Russian basketball after seven years in the USA? How long did it take to adapt?

Yes, the first year was very difficult, I had to get used to and learn a lot. Yet the Euroleague is not student basketball.

By the way, just before leaving for America, in the final of one of the youth tournaments you played against the Novosibirsk team, where Pavel Podkolzin shone. Have you heard about his future?

It's hard to forget this - Pasha showed great promise, because 224 cm are not lying on the road. But something did not work out for him, he did not gain a foothold in the NBA, having played six matches, he played in the Nizhny Novgorod sports club, and then disappeared from the radar.

With your return to Russia, your chances of getting into the national team have increased. Do you remember your first call to the national team?

Of course. They became interested in me even after winning the NCAA championship. The then general manager of the national team, Sergei Tarakanov, called and called for the first training camp. I was very happy, because I had a chance to go through the adaptation period early, look around, get to know the guys, understand what's what.

This year you got an unpleasant injury and missed the World Championship. Could the operation have been avoided?

No, if I had tightened it, I could have stopped playing basketball altogether. But the operation was not related to sports, so he recovered quickly and there were almost no consequences left.

During the downtime, you naturally followed the championship. What did the team lack to reach the final?

Yes, I saw all the games and was very worried. In the semi-finals, we looked very good against France, but the opponent's game was still better. In general, the team performed well, if only we had a good point guard… There is no such “first number” as Holden in Russia. Yes, there is Shved, Bykov and Ponkrashov, and they can play in the position of Jay, but this is not their “native” place on the court. If we manage to find the right basketball player, we will not yield to any European team.

Timofey Mozgov played in your position at the championship, but his performance left much to be desired. What prevented the NBA center from showing himself in all its glory?

Increased attention and pressure, I think. Still, Tima is quite young, he hasn’t played at top tournaments for a long time, but he came with the label “NBA player” and faced serious expectations. Too much was thrown on his shoulders, emotions sometimes interfered with action.

What prevented CSKA from playing, which failed last international season?

Everyone remembers that we performed poorly, but we have already forgotten what an epidemic of injuries happened at the club then. I went in for surgery, Khryapa was also operated on, Siskauskas had an injury - not the best situation. Against this background, the first half of the season, where the group stage of the Euroleague took place, did not work out. Then Vuyoshevich was fired. Unfortunately, I did not have time to work with him, as I was in rehabilitation in the States. Dushko is a human pity, because he lost many key performers overnight, and those who replaced them did not play so brightly. And in the end, all responsibility was shifted to the Serb.

This season the squad has been seriously strengthened by Andrey Kirilenko. How was he received by the team?

Excellent, because he is his own. Andrei is very easy to communicate, without signs of stardom, he easily joined the team. Kirilenko is ready to sacrifice everything for CSKA to show good results.

The current PBL championship threatens to do without the playoffs. How do you feel about such an initiative?

I think that the problem of a long season for players of national teams simply needs to be addressed. Playing 11 months a year is wrong, the doctors here agree with me. Sacrificing the playoffs is not the best idea, you need to shorten the season somehow. The ideal option is to make the Final Four of the Euroleague the last club competition, and finish everything else before it.

Blatt said he needed at least three weeks to prepare for the Olympic qualification.

Of course, we need time to feel each other, to get into the rhythm of the game. Moreover, the composition is constantly changing a little, newcomers need to be given the opportunity to join the team.

If you do well in the Olympics and the NBA lockout ends, then Cleveland will explicitly offer you a contract.

Honestly, I don't think about it at all. If an invitation comes, and financially profitable, then why not? True, the Cavs are no longer the same: after the departure of Le Bron, the team became an outsider. In any case, it's too early to think about it - the lockout will soon end the season.

For a long time I was ready to make a choice in favor of programming, but the coach in the last year of study still convinced me. I am very interested in my profession, and in general I am very grateful to fate for being in America. In the end, it was there that he met his future wife

Lockout brought a scattering of overseas stars to Europe and Russia. Will it complicate the tasks for the season?

I think that this practice is vicious for top teams. What if the lockout ends tomorrow and these players go back to the NBA? What will happen to the clubs? Again, you have to reshape the game, play new combinations. But if a simpler team invites a superstar, then I don’t see anything wrong here. This is good both for management and for attracting fans, and simply gives impetus to the development of clubs. Although Khimki got three, but did not qualify for the Euroleague...

How do you feel about the VTB League and its competition with PBL?

I hope that in the future they will find a way to combine the two championships in order to reduce the burden on the players.

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