Finally Four

Only four teams are headed for New Orleans -- and here are the guys leading them there.

Updated: March 31, 2003, 12:41 PM ET
They make it look so easy. Travis Diener catching DWade out of the corner of his eye, then unleashing a spot-on skip pass. Sweet! Kirk Hinrich hanging his wrists as his 24-foot J hangs in the air. Swish! Royal Ivey and James Thomas puttin' the hurt on any fool standing in their way. Smack! Carmelo Anthony stopping, dropping, popping. Smooth!

But there's nothing easy about living on the edge. One wrong move, one ill-timed pass, one errant shot, and you're going home. (Nice knowing you, Tubby. Enjoy your vacay, Lute. Thanks for playing, Tom and Kelvin.) Just that quick.

Marquette, Kansas, Texas and Syracuse: The guys leading them to New Orleans have heard all the reasons they don't belong here. Too small. Too white. Too raw. Too young. Too bad. Because with the shot clock winding down, and hands in their faces, and the crowd buzzing in their ears, they were the ones who proved toughest in the end. Look at 'em now, keepin' on. Easy as can be.