Predicting the Final Four

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Predicting the Final Four

Carson Field, Sports Editor

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This past weekend, South Carolina, Gonzaga, Oregon and North Carolina cemented their spots in the Final Four. The Final Four will begin this Saturday and the National Championship will be on April 3.

South Carolina is the team who came out of the East Region, which was very unexpected. The Gamecocks had a solid regular season, but they are a seven-seed, so not many people saw them even getting past Duke in the second round. They have been led by star guard Sindarius Thornwell, who scored 26 points in the Elite 8 win against Florida. In addition to their excellent guard play, coach Frank Martin has been a force for the Gamecocks. His intensity gets the players and the crowd into the games, and he is likely a reason for the team’s success over the past two seasons.

The team that will face South Carolina in the Final Four will be Gonzaga, who is appearing in their first Final Four. Gonzaga has made the Tournament every year since 1999, which is a very impressive accomplishment for a mid-major school. However, the team’s success in March has been disappointing, as the Zags have had many rosters that were likely talented enough to make a Final Four run. Some of the players on Gonzaga from 1999 to present have been Adam Morrison, Robert Sacre, Kelly Olynyk, Kyle Wiltjer and more. Gonzaga, despite not having its usual star power, has a deep team, including standouts Nigel Williams-Goss, Przemek Karnowski and Jordan Mathews.

Oregon shocked all the critics this March by going to the Final Four despite an injury to star forward Chris Boucher. This is the Ducks’ first Final Four since 1939 when they won the inaugural NCAA Division I national championship. Oregon has a loaded roster led by Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey and Dylan Ennis, who all have been spectacular this March. If Oregon plays like they did against Kansas, they have a solid chance to win their second championship, but if they revert back to how they barely squeaked away from Rhode Island, they could lose to the Tar Heels by double-digits.

Finally, North Carolina has played terrific this postseason, and they will once again have to play well to once again advance to the national championship. UNC played well in their latest win against Kentucky, who has been playing better than almost anyone. UNC also looked great in their Sweet 16 win against Butler, controlling the Bulldogs and winning by 12. The Tar Heels are a very complete team, and the play from their posts is outstanding. If UNC gets the production they need from Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks and Theo Pinson, they will likely defeat the Ducks.

Because of Thornwell’s efficiency, I predict South Carolina’s tournament run to continue. I also expect North Carolina to end Oregon’s unlikely run because their post play will somewhat neutralize Oregon’s star power. This would set up for an interesting championship: the Battle of the Carolinas. North Carolina will ultimately defeat South Carolina in a close game in the National Championship.

Final Four:

South Carolina 71

Gonzaga 64

North Carolina 68

Oregon 59

Championship:

North Carolina 72

South Carolina 67

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