The NCAA Mens basketball tournament has been filled with upsets, Cinderella’s, and newbies to the Final Four. Three out of the four teams have a combined one Final Four visit in the 75+ years of the NCAA tournament. The lone visit by Oregon, came all the back in 1939, the inaugural season for the tournament. On the other hand, the fourth team is the UNC Tar Heels. They are in the second straight Final Four and it is in its 20th Final Four in school history. This recent success and past knowledge of the Final Four will benefit the Tar Heels tremendously in a number of ways.
UNC Tar Heels
The Tar Heels were able to escape the South part of the tournament relatively unharmed besides for a narrow victory over the dangerous Kentucky Wildcats. UNC is the last team left from the ACC that had a tournament high eight teams. They have been lead by All-American Justin Jackson, a stand-out Freshman, and Joel Berry, a great senior point guard. Also, Isaiah Hicks, and Kennedy Meeks have played a key role as big men on the highly talented roster. In my opinion, this team has everything it needs to change the outcome of last years championship game. Last year, they lost the game to a great Villanova team on a last second buzzer beater. This year, the outcome will be much better as the team is in more unison and have played well all year. Also, the deep experience from last year will lead the Tar Heels to a victory over the explosive Oregon and then over the Cinderella South Carolina to win the National Championship.
South Carolina Gamecocks
As i just mentioned, I believe that the Cinderella story of South Carolina will continue to the NCAA championship game. They have been lead by Sindarius Thornwell and PJ Dozier, two highly gifted guards. Along with great guard play, they have been blessed by big men Chris Silva and Maik Kotsar. The combination of these four players, along with excellent bench play, have lead the Cinderella team in the tournament to the first Final Four in school history. This great run was started with a surprising upset victory over Duke, a highly rated two-seed in the field. I believe that this hot team will be able to overcome a nearly perfect Gonzaga team in the regular season. However, the hotness of this team will cool off when they come face to face with the best team left, North Carolina.
The Bulldogs have only lost one game all season due to a tremendous team effort and also from coaching from a true genius. Mark Few has been one of the best coaches all year, if not the best. He has had help from a second team All-American, Nigel Williams-Goss. The guard has averaged almost 17 points, nearly 6 rebounds and 5 assists for the season. This play has been able to spark Gonzaga to a great season and to its first Final Four bid in school history. They have had a few close calls in the tournament so far. Furthermore, I do see Gonzaga not being able to overcome the new powerhouse of South Carolina. This great will come to an end in Arizona this weekend.
The Ducks have been a little surprise to many basketball fans recently. They were able to pull away from the #1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks, a very good team, to make the Final Four. Tyler Dorsey, a great guard, has been able to lead the Ducks to a great season and the Ducks second ever Final Four. The stiff competition in the Pac-12 such as Arizona and UCLA have propelled the Ducks to a great season and thus a Final Four run. Although the Ducks have made it this far, I do not see them going any farther thanks to the soon-to-be NCAA champs, UNC. Oregon is still relatively young and will still be a significant contender in the near future.
One thing is for certain though, the NCAA is never as straight forward as it may seem on paper. I am fairly positive that my picks for how the tournament will finish will not be the same as the actual results. the tournament sure has lived up to its name this year and it surely has been madness in the air. I sure hope this Final Four will be able to live up to the hype coming into the weekend.