NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament

An unlikely Final Four is an ode to grinders

An unlikely Final Four is an ode to grinders

Oregon Coach Dana Altman made his way slowly to each player’s locker Saturday evening, sipping water from a plastic cup. He looked less elated than pleasantly content, like a man about to settle down in the good chair after a hard day’s work.

The only thing that betrayed the euphoria and improbability of the moment was his shirt. It was all wet. The Ducks, after reaching the school’s first Final Four since 1939, had dumped a bucket of ice over their aww-shucksing coach.

Altman took it, “as uncomfortable as all get out,” assistant coach Mike Mennenga said.

A similar scene played out across the country Saturday and into Sunday as wide-eyed newcomers, Gonzaga and South...