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Elite teams taking full charge of basketball's Final Four

Big money, recruiting power, and selection committees mean the era of Cinderella teams is all but over.

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The University of Nevada at Reno is a good basketball school. But men's coach Mark Fox acknowledged a bitter truth for Nevada fans when he bolted this week for a coaching job at the University of Georgia.

Sure, Mr. Fox tripled his salary in the time it took to fly from the high desert to the seven hills of Athens. But his decision had as much, or more, to do with an ill-kept secret in the NCAA: The Cinderella aspect of March Madness has become a myth.

"He knew he was not ever going to be able to get to the Final Four [with Nevada]," says Richard Davies, a University of Nevada history professor and author of "Sports in American Life: A History." "We can compete. But we can't win."

To be sure, big upsets, deep runs by smaller schools like Memphis or Cleveland State still make the 65-team tournament a thrilling must-see for millions of college fans each year. This year, the NCAA increased seating at Detroit's Ford Center to make room for Michigan State fans, whose dribblers will contend with UNC, Villanova, and UConn this weekend for the championship.

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