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Monday, March 27, 2017

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Eyes On NCAA: March Madness- Final Four

By @TrueGodImmortal

The March Madness tournament has reached the final weekend. The Final Four is set. No one could have predicted that it would have turned out quite like this, but here we are. No Villanova. No Kentucky. No Kansas. No Duke. No Arizona. Nothing. We've seen many of the top seeds and the 2nd seeds disappear for the most part, but there are four teams that remain standing: Gonzaga, South Carolina, Oregon, and North Carolina. Three of these teams probably are surprises to be here, as this is the first Final Four for Gonzaga and South Carolina, and only the second Final Four for Oregon. The team with the most experience is North Carolina, as they've been here 20 times

*South Carolina vs Gonzaga

-In a game that's truly a case of defense vs defense, this one could go either way. I've never believed that Gonzaga had enough momentum to ride to a National Championship, but I also didn't expect to see them here in the Final Four regardless of what their record says. With South Carolina, you have an elite defensive team who will apply pressure to Gonzaga and their back court as well as their length. Still, I think some of the players to watch in this game are P.J. Dozier, Nigel Williams-Goss, Sindarius Thornwell, Jordan Matthews, and Chris Silva. This will be a hard fought game, but one thing that will determine who wins is the pressure being put on the offenses. In this tournament so far, no one has done that quite like South Carolina and I think they'll pull it off against Gonzaga. Gonzaga is the favorite going into this battle, but I predict that South Carolina will manage to pull out an upset victory and move forward to the NCAA Championship.

Winner: South Carolina

*North Carolina vs Oregon

-This is one of those games that really could go either way, which has been the basis of March Madness for years. A lot of times the games can be anyone's if they play hard enough. Oregon is a solid shooting team, but one has to wonder how they can manage to slow down UNC and their offensive rebounding. UNC manages to get a lot of second chance points and that's how they manage to stay in many games. Oregon isn't the best at rebounding defensively and that could prove to be their downfall in this crucial game especially in the final stretch if the game is close. Oregon lacks the size of UNC as well, and with Kennedy Meeks down in the post to get the offensive rebound, UNC might end up making this an easy victory if they play correctly. Also, when you have an ACC Player of the Year on your team, it helps your chances. Justin Jackson is a deadly option to have on any team and if he shows up big time in this one, it's a done deal for the Ducks.

What could be telling is the pace this game moves at. Oregon isn't the fastest paced team and UNC isn't technically either, but they are miles ahead of Oregon in this department and that could also tip the scales in their favor. By all accounts, it looks as if the Oregon Ducks should be in trouble, but what will make the difference is if they can get their shots to fall regularly and slow down the pace of the game. A slower pace benefits Oregon and they will attempt to keep that pace as slow as possible in order to win the game. Another factor that will help Oregon is if Joel Berry is out of the game with an ankle injury. He has enough time to heal up and rest his ankles for the game this weekend so it's a big chance he will play, but if he's weakened, that could be just the advantage that Oregon needs. However, at the end of the day, we have too many what if scenarios for Oregon to win, and I think we'll see UNC pull out the victory using their size and their efficient play.

Winner: North Carolina

Now in the end, based on my picks, I would have South Carolina vs North Carolina in the Final match. This would be the battle of the Carolinas and a truly interesting set up. In a matchup like that, it could go either way. It's a huge chance that the Tar Heels will win it all if they get beyond Oregon regardless of who wins between Gonzaga and South Carolina, but it's March Madness and we know it's a one and done tournament. On any given night, any team could win. My pick to win it all is and was always UNC, but South Carolina certainly has a shot. Who will emerge victorious following this Final Four weekend? Only time will tell, but I have my money (or lack there of) on UNC.



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