Publish Date: 04/01/2017
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis
South Carolina has come out of nowhere to become the Cinderella of this tournament. Gonzaga has lost just once all year, but people have questioned the validity of this team every step of the way. Are the Gamecocks for real? Can Gonzaga silence all of their doubters?
A big key to why the Gamecocks have made it to this Final Four has been their ability to defend the perimeter. This was evident in the Gamecocks Elite Eight victory over the Florida Gators when they held the Gators to just 7 of 26 behind the three-point arc. Chris Silva and Maik Kostar where beast on the offensive boards against Florida and if they can do that again South Carolina could find it’s way to a NCAA Championship game. Sindarius Thornwell as always will be a significant factor for South Carolina, most coming into the tournament have never heard of him. That will all change if he can have solid performances in two more games.
If the Bulldogs shoot the ball like they did against Xavier, they will be virtually impossible to beat. I highly doubt they will shoot the ball like that against a South Carolina team that defends the three-point line as good as any team in the country. Przemek Karnowski managed to pull down only three rebounds against Xavier, if that happens in this game, the Bulldogs will find themselves headed home after Saturday’s game. Karnowski has to be a dominant factor on both sides of the floor in this game.
Gonzaga will have a hard time with the Gamecocks defense and the final nail in the coffin will be Gonzaga losing the battle on the boards. South Carolina 71, Gonzaga 66
North Carolina vs. Oregon
North Carolina was expected to make it here, and Oregon has been an almost complete surprise to most. The Tar Heels pulled out a close win over the Kentucky Wildcats with the help of some “questionable” officiating. Oregon squeaked by Rhode Island and Michigan before shocking Kansas in Kansas in the elite eight.
Jordan Bell will be a huge key to the Ducks success, he was phenomenal in the Ducks handling of the Jayhawks, and if he can do it again against the Heels, the Ducks will have a shot here. Combine a big game from Bell with a big time effort by Tyler Dorsey and Dillon Brooks, and you could have the Ducks playing in the title game.
Kennedy Meeks and the rest of the Tar Heels need to control the boards like they did in the win over Kentucky. Another huge factor will be the Tar Heels ability to get to the free throw line and convert. Do these two things, and they will be dancing into their second straight NCAA Final.
I think Oregon pulls the upset here, the combination of Brooks and Dorsey on the perimeter combined with Jordan Bell spells upset for the Ducks. Oregon 77, North Carolina 73