04/04/2014 11:16 am ET Updated Apr 04, 2014

You've Probably Never Thought About The NCAA Final Four Floor Before, But Here's Why It Matters


Not many people watching the Final Four games of the men's NCAA tournament this weekend will spend a second thinking about the basketball court itself. But months of work and thousands of miles of have has gone into creating a surface that's just meant to be dribbled on.

Watch a time-lapse video of Connor Sports making the floor for the NCAA tournament's Final Four games:

The process started in early winter, when maples were harvested from forests in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The seasonal timing is crucial to get lighter-colored wood so boards will have a consistent coloring. From the sawmill, the boards were dried and sent to Connor Sport's plant in nearby Amasa to be processed and made into panels of flooring.

An Upper Peninsula town of fewer than 300 residents -- near the Wisconsin border, it actually doesn't have the same time zone as the rest of Michigan -- Amasa doesn't even have a high school basketball team. But the Connor facility makes about 800 basketball floors a year, including NCAA courts.

Jason Gasperich, Connor's director of sustainability, knows that most basketball fans won't be noticing his company's work when they're watching Saturday's games.

"I don't think people... give the floor a second thought," he told HuffPost.

But the court itself does play a role in the games. Gasperich said that keeping consistency for the floors is one more way to make sure teams are competing on an equal playing field.

"You take away the variables of the different floors and different ages of floors," he explained. "Every school that makes it through is playing on the same kind of court."

After the floor was built this year, the panels were sent to Connor's Idaho Falls, Idaho facility, where they were arranged into a full court, polished, finished with graphics and left to set for several weeks. The approximately 7,000-square-foot floor is now waiting at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas for Saturday's NCAA Final Four games -- a 2,800-mile trip from its Michigan beginnings.

Connor is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council for its use of sustainable wood. Its floors are made in zero-waste facilities, meaning less than one percent of the company's waste ends up in a landfill.

They have produced NCAA courts since 2006, and they're just a small fraction of the work Connor does each year. But it's still novel to see them on TV.

"It's pretty hard for the employees to not get excited about it," Gasperich said.

This year, we guess we'll be watching the Final Floor.



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