Down to Four!

There are four teams remaining in the Men’s NCAA basketball Tournament.  They are usually referred to as the “Final Four”.  64 teams entered the tourney and only 4 remain.  60 games have been played and only 3 remain.  As I have mentioned in the last two posts, there is plenty of drama and there are plenty of story lines to follow.  That has not changed with only 4 teams remaining.  There are 2 #1 seeds left, a #3, and a #7.  It is not surprising that a number 1 seed makes it, but it might shock a few this time around.  Lets take a look at each team that is left.

We can start with the least surprising team, North Carolina.  They were the #1 seed in the South bracket.  Winning was not surprising, but the drama in the game against Kentucky was “edge of your seat” stuff.  North Carolina held a decent lead in the final minutes, but Kentucky managed to hit a few 3 pointers to close the gap and the final 3 pointer tied the game with roughly 7 seconds left.  North Carolina did not call a timeout and they dribbled right up the court and dished for a wide open jump shot…It went in with .3 seconds left and the game was all but over.  By the way, the next morning, this happened.  Sometimes it is easy to forget they are student athletes, good for him!

Another number one seed to make the Final Four are the Gonzaga Bulldogs. It should not be a surprise that a number one seed makes it, but it is considering I am discussing the “mid-major” powerhouse.  This is their first trip after having plenty of really solid teams and opportunities in the past.  Gonzaga advanced to the final 4 by winning a close game against West Virginia and then blowing out Xavier.  Quite frankly, it should not be a surprise they are here. They have only lost one game all year and they rose to the #1 ranking in the country at one point this season.  There is no reason they can’t win it all.

The number 3 seed Oregon Ducks advanced to the final four by squeaking past the Michigan Wolverines and then handling a really good Kansas team.  They had some really outstanding efforts by Dorsey and Bell.  Bell was a one man wrecking crew in the paint.  Oregon had a great regular season and could or should have been seeded higher.  However, one of their better players was injured in the conference tournament.  Most thought that would really hurt their chances of doing any damage in the tourney.  It looks like “most” people were wrong.  They have a good shot at winning it all.

Finally, our last team in the Final Four is the South Carolina Gamecocks.  This is their first trip to the Final Four and they certainly earned it.  They knocked off Baylor and Florida to get in.  Not too mention they beat Duke earlier in the tourney.  They play an extremely physical brand of basketball with outstanding defense.  Many would argue they have taken on the personality of their coach, Frank Martin.  He is about as intense as it gets!  They certainly have a shot to win it all if they continue to play like they have.

So there are three games remaining, I know there are favorites to win each game.  However, I would not be surprised is any one of the 4 teams came out on top.  It takes a ton of hard work to get here and just a little more to win it all.  There is only one winner and by late Monday, we will know who it is.  By the way, 25 years ago today a guy named Jordan hit this shot to win it all for North Carolina.

 

–Victor Mandalawi