BY RACHEL COHEN
The Dallas Morning News
Call it the "good genes Final Four."
It seems that almost everybody on the remaining quartet of teams has a famous father. Expect lots of camera shots of the celebrity parents sitting in the stands during Saturday's broadcast of the semifinals.
It all starts with Georgetown coach John Thompson III, restoring the program to the glory days built by his dad. His players include freshman guard Jeremiah Rivers, son of Doc, and the self-explanatory Patrick Ewing Jr.
The father of Ohio State freshman guard Mike Conley Jr. was an Olympic gold medal-winning triple jumper.
During last year's Final Four, we learned all about the families of Florida stars Taurean Green and Al Horford, whose dads played in the NBA, and Joakim Noah, son of former tennis star Yannick.
The defending champs have displayed their balance. In the Sweet 16 against Butler, big man Al Horford had 16 points, while 3-point specialist Lee Humphrey had just six.
In the Elite Eight against Oregon, it was Horford with only six points, but Humphrey broke free for 23 points, making seven of 13 3-pointers. Four Gators scored in double figures in each of the regional games.
The starters, with their experience and inside-outside capabilities, are obviously their strength, though those players are also having to play a lot of minutes. Each was on the court for at least 30 minutes in Florida's last two games. Senior Chris Richard provided some quality contributions in the Elite Eight with six offensive rebounds in 22 minutes.
The Gators haven't been dominant in any of their last three wins, but they've shown the ability to shift into another gear and pull away late. Leading by three with less than two minutes left in the second round against Purdue, they scored six straight points. Down one to Butler with 3 1/2 minutes remaining, they went on a 10-1 run.
The Bruins return to the Final Four for the second straight season for a rematch of last season's title game, which they lost, 73-57, to Florida. In last year's meeting, UCLA shot 36.1 percent from the floor, missed 14 of 17 3-point attempts and couldn't stop the Gators' interior players. Star Arron Afflalo, in particular, will be looking for redemption: He managed just 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting.
Making baskets wasn't a problem for the Bruins in the Elite Eight against Kansas' normally stingy defense. They made 53.3 percent of their field goal attempts, including several tough ones at the end of the shot clock. Afflalo had 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting.
UCLA committed 25 turnovers against Kansas, but otherwise taking care of the ball has not been much of a problem. The 21 turnovers the Bruins forced Saturday were more characteristic; they average 7.5 steals per game.
In taking over for Jordan Farmar as UCLA's starting point guard, sophomore Darren Collison has increased his scoring from 5.5 points per game last year to 12.8 this season.
Coach Thad Matta is 80-21 in three seasons at the school. The Buckeyes, owners of a 21-game win streak, proved they could pull out tight contests in the second round and Sweet 16.
Their most well-known player may be a freshman center in Greg Oden, but the star of their NCAA Tournament run has been senior guard Ron Lewis. He has averaged 24.7 points over the last three games, and if it weren't for his last-minute 3-pointer against Xavier, Ohio State wouldn't have even made the Sweet 16.
Lewis found himself in a curious situation at the start of the season: He was the Buckeyes' leading returning scorer, but with a highly touted recruiting class coming in, there was a chance his production would be cut. Instead, the Bowling Green transfer has increased his average from 11.2 points to 12.8.
Ohio State has shot 52.0 percent from the floor in its last two games. But despite Oden's presence, the Buckeyes were outrebounded in their victories over Tennessee and Memphis.
The Hoyas return to the Final Four for the first time since 1985. Their Elite Eight victory over North Carolina showed that their big men can be vulnerable to foul trouble, but that they're a force when they're in the game. Georgetown had 11 blocks against the Tar Heels.
After a rough first half, the Hoyas also proved how dominant their defense can be. During a 15-minute stretch spanning the second half and overtime, UNC was 1-of-23 from the floor.
Roy Hibbert, Georgetown's 7-2 junior center, is averaging 11.5 rebounds in the tournament. In the two games in the regional, junior forward Jeff Green scored 37 points on 17-of-28 shooting and played nearly 82 minutes.
The Hoyas' five starters Green, Hibbert, Jonathan Wallace, Jessie Sapp and DaJuan Summers combined for 89 points on 61.4 percent shooting in the overtime win over the Tar Heels.