The Carolinas and PacificNorthwest get together for unique run to crown
The Associated Press
glendale, ariz. » The Final Four is set, with one blueblood and three newbies headed to the desert to settle the NCAA Tournament.
North Carolina has been there, done thatwith college basketball’s final weekend, reaching the title game last year. Oregon is here for the first time since winning its only title in 1939, while Gonzaga and South Carolina are making their first ventures this deep intoMarch Madness.
It should be a great weekend and to get you ready, we’ve got the teams, players, coaches and matchups to keep an eye on at University of Phoenix Stadium:
Nigel Williams- Goss, Gonzaga. First- team AllAmerican shuts down the opposing team’s best player, runs one of the nation’s most efficient offenses, superb leader. Sindarius Thornwell, C South Carolina. Physical, scores, rebounds, defends. May not be anyone playing better in the tournament. Dillon Brooks, Oregon. Plays with an edge, usually comes close to crossing it. Always finds a way to make a big play. Justin Jackson, North Carolina. Long, athletic, shoots inside and out, causes nightmares for opposing coaches trying to figure out how to stop him.
Roy Williams, North Carolina. The dean of college basketball coaches. And dadgum it, one fiery southern gentleman. Frank Martin, South Carolina. The big man in the big suit is known for his fiery demeanor and starerightthrough- you eyes on the sideline. Also happens to be a good coach and one of the most loyal people in the sport. Mark Few, Gonzaga. The monkey off his back— along with the dogs and cats— he has the basketball acumen and the team to take the Zags to their first national title. Dana Altman, Oregon. Quietly known as one of the nation’s best coaches for years, he’s proven it during the Ducks’ run to the Final Four.
Gonzaga. Finally over the Final Four hump, the Zags are ready to take two more steps and add a title to their résumé. North Carolina. Veteran, multitalented, been here before more times than the other teams combined. A clear favorite.
The top 10
South Carolina. These Gamecocks are gamers. Already took out three of the top four seeds in the East Region for their first NCAA Tournament wins in 44 years, ready to make the trip even more special. Oregon. The Ducks may have lost a key player with Chris Boucher’s ACL injury, but they’re talented enough to be a player in the national championship race. Just ask Kansas.
Oregon’s defensive rebounding vs. North Carolina. The Tar Heels clean up 42 percent of their missed shots with offensive rebounds. Oregon was 180th nationally in defensive rebounding. South Carolina vs. Gonzaga’s frontcourt. Zags center Przemek Karnowski is perhaps the biggest big in the country at 7- foot- 1, 300 pounds. Zach Collins is a 7- 0 leaper. Gamecocks frontcourters Maik Kotsar and Chris Silva give up at least 3 inches and a whole lot of poundage to Karnowski. The Polish big man also is an adept passer, so South Carolina will have to be careful with the game- planning. Pace game, Oregon vs. North Carolina. The Tar Heels like to play fast— score- five- seconds- after- a- missed- freethrow fast. The Ducks, despite their reputation as an up- tempo team, play at an adjusted tempo that was 241st nationally. Control the pace, win the game. Gonzaga from 3, South Carolina guarding it. The Gamecocks are stellar at defending the 3, holding opponents to the eighth- lowest percentage ( 30.1) in the country. The Zags don’t exactly rely on the 3— they were 275th nationally at 26 percent of their made shots— but have four players who made at least 40 shots from the arc this season.
SATURDAY In Glendale, Ariz. No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 7 South Carolina, 4: 09 p. m., KCNC- 4 No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Oregon, 6: 49 p. m., KCNC- 4