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NCAA Final Four Preview, Schedule: North Carolina Vs Oregon, South Carolina Vs Gonzaga

By Timothy Jay Ibay
on Mar 27, 2017 09:03 AM EDT
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March Madness lived it up to its name, with a pair of thrilling Elite Eight games Sunday, propelling a trio of unlikely teams to the Final Four. Will North Carolina’s wealth of experience in playing late into the NCAA Tournament be enough to give them an edge against the three remaining teams?

As pointed out by USA Today, Gonzaga and South Carolina booked their first ever Final Four appearance with wins over Xavier and Florida, respectively. Apart from North Carolina, who avenged their heartbreaking loss with a last-second shot of their own Sunday against Kentucky to get into the semifinals, Oregon is the only other team in the Final Four to have reached this point, albeit with a single appearance to their name… back in 1939.

While their pedigree and experience (most of the Tar Heels played in last year’s Finals), North Carolina appears to be the prohibitive favorite heading into the Final Four. But if there’s anything March Madness has proven throughout the years, it’s that anything’s possible. And their Final four opponent – the Oregon Ducks – have proven, particularly against the Kansas Jayhawks, that they are not wont to be intimidated by a big-named school. Oregon’s athletic duo of Dillon Brooks (16.3 points per game) and Jordan Bell (10.9 points per game on 63.4 percent shooting) will have to bring their A-game against North Carolina’s size and familiarity with big moments. The Oregon Ducks and the North Carolina Tar Heels face off on Apr. 1 at 8:49 p.m.

Meanwhile, the other side of the fence features the offensive balance of the Gonzaga Bulldogs matched up against the nation’s second-best defense in South Carolina. But as pointed out by Bleacher Report, while Gonzaga will be making their first Final Four appearance, they have established themselves as a perennial force to be reckoned with in recent years. The Gamecocks may have a physical and relentlessness to their game that have frustrated opponents thus far, but their mettle will be tested in the biggest stage they’ve ever been on Saturday.

“We’re not going to settle for this,” South Carolina star Sindarius Thornwell said of their Final Four appearance. “We’re still going into that game thinking we can win – why not, why not us, why not go win it all?” South Carolina and Gonzaga tips off at 6:49 p.m.

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