By Ruslan Crosby
This year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament has been filled with many upsets, including several from the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Gamecocks have gone from being one of the worst college basketball programs in the country to being one of the rare #7 seeds to make the final four. The last #7 seed team to be in the final four was UConn; they went on to win the national championship, but the same storyline will not unfold this year.
#7 South Carolina Gamecocks vs. #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs
South Carolina’s amazing season will come to end when they take on the Gonzaga Bulldogs tonight in the final four. Gonzaga simply has too good of an all-around team for the underdog South Carolina team to beat them. Although the Gamecocks have an underrated great interior defense, the Bulldogs duo of Przemek Karnowski and Nigel Williams-Goss of Gonzaga will prove to be difficult to stop.
Winning is programmed in the Bulldogs’ DNA. With their earlier tournament wins this year, Karnowski became the all-time winningest player in NCAA basketball history. Associated Press’ men’s coach of the year, Mark Few, will have his Gonzaga Bulldogs ready to stop South Carolina’s cinderella run.
#3 Oregon Ducks vs. #1 North Carolina Tar Heels
The upcoming matchup between the Oregon Ducks and the North Carolina Tar Heels will be an exciting game. UNC has proven themselves to be the overall best team in all of the country so far in the tournament, but Oregon, led by PAC-12 player of the year Dillon Brooks, has been winning games with an offensive barrage.
The Tar Heels have been sending four to five players to try to get offensive rebounds when they miss shots, so Oregon will likely have the opportunity for a lot of fast-break points if they can get the rebound. With this possibility for a lot of points, Oregon will have a solid chance to win the game against UNC. Also, the Tar Heels will be playing without injured Joel Berry II at full strength; he controls the ball and leads the team very well when he’s on the court.
Junior forward Justin Jackson, will come through though for the Tar Heels and carry the team to the National Championship. He was on the UNC team that lost to Villanova in the finals last year, and he desperately wants to go back for redemption. I am picking UNC to pull out a close win over Oregon.
North Carolina 78-74