Even though they only had five losses during the regular season, they were generally considered the Pac 12 conference's third-best team behind UCLA and Arizona.But now OR is among the top four college basketball teams in the country and on the verge of possibly winning its first national title. The Tar Heels had already lost ballhandler Dexter Strickland in January when Kendall Marshall - a Cousy victor, too - suffered a broken wrist when he took a hard foul during a second-round win against Creighton. "I guess that's what motivates them".

"When we got there, there was a sense of we arrived because just getting to the tournament was a huge accomplishment for the program, so we figured while we're here, we might as well win", said Santangelo, who works on Gonzaga's radio broadcasts now.

Gonzaga. Finally over the Final Four hump, the Zags are ready to take two more steps and add a title to their resume.

► Why Gonzaga (36-1) will win: The Bulldogs will enjoy a significant size advantage, and they know how to use it to great effect with stifling defense and crisp interior passing. Those matchups tend to become magnified at the Final Four, where preparation time and the pressure of the game's biggest stage factor in prominently. This year's team is led by WCC player of the year Nigel Williams-Goss and freshman standout Zach Collins. Except for the loss at home to BYU late in the regular season, they have been unfazed by any obstacle. When your on-ball guard is good defensively, your team is good defensively.

Like most of Columbia, Seventh Woods is excited to see SC men's basketball playing in the Final Four.

The AAC now has 12 members for football: UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, Navy, SMU, South Florida, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa. Fast-forward eight years, and Gonzaga and SC have been two of the stingiest teams in the country when it comes to allowing three-pointers.

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North Carolina, No. 1 in the South. seeks a second straight championship game.

South Carolina, led by SG Sindarius Thornwell and PG Duane Notice, has won four consecutive NCAA tournament games as a underdog. Coach Frank Martin has been reconstructing that team, and to finally see it pay off. In other words, it could be a long night from long range for both teams, neither of whom are known to be particularly strong three-point artists. The Gamecocks allow 64.9 points per game. SC also gets some added motivation from Martin and his staff, who take performance on that side of the ball seriously. Most of the time, Karnowski said, they come around Christmas. He stated,"If we're in it, why not win it?"

Before this tournament, South Carolina's last NCAA win was in 1973.

Lastly, we have the Oregon Ducks who also have been known as more of a football school recently.

Dillon Brooks, Oregon. Plays with an edge, usually comes close to crossing it. OR won the first-ever title in 1939, but they are in the midst of an 87-year championship drought. The fact that they have gotten so far without Senior and defensive anchor Chris Boucher is an impressive feat in itself. Few has won 82% of his game over 18 years as head coach in Spokane and made the NCAA tourney each season.

OR is a very risky team because they can shoot the three ball with consistency and they are fast and athletic and can get out and run. They finally got the monkey of their back of making a Final Four, and may play loose and free tonight. I hate North Carolina with a passion. Melson's assessment that the Zags have the "best" rim protection in college basketball isn't a biased opinion: It's demonstrable fact.


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