Wild March Madness field comes down to Final Four

Roy Williams has UNC looking to forget their loss to Villanova a year ago by winning the championship.

Mike Eshleman
Staff Writer

After a month of entertaining basketball games, the UNC Tar Heels, Gonzaga Bulldogs, South Carolina Gamecocks and Oregon Ducks have each earned the right to head west to Phoenix to play in the Final Four after another crazy March Madness tournament.

As it stands, it looks as if the Tar Heels and the Bulldogs are on a crash course for the NCAA championship game after running through the first part of the tournament. UNC outlasted Kentucky in what many see as the game of the tournament thus far.

With about 7.2 seconds left in the game, Kentucky guard Malik Monk drilled a contested 3-pointer to tie the game. UNC in-bounded the ball, Theo Pinson ran down the floor and passed the ball off to Luke Maye who then drilled a two-point shot to win the game for the Tar Heels, 75-73. Maye’s shot sent UNC to the Final Four for the second straight year and the 20th time in their history.

This was the toughest test yet for the top seeded Tar Heels, who are looking to make up for last year’s buzzer-beating loss to the Villanova Wildcats in the championship game. The Tar Heels will face the Oregon Ducks on Saturday in Phoenix to decide who goes to the championship game. The Ducks upset the #1 seed Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday.

On the other side, the Gonzaga Bulldogs have been steamrolling the competition. Gonzaga is coming off a beat-down against #11 Xavier in which the Bulldogs bested the Musketeers 83-59. Gonzaga is set to face off against #7 South Carolina on Saturday. South Carolina, led by 6’5 guard and tournament breakout player Sindarius Thornwell, are looking to complete their magical run to the national championship game. The Gamecocks have knocked off the likes of Duke, Baylor and Florida to make it to the Final Four. This is the first Final Four appearance for both programs.

Many fans are expecting to see a UNC – Gonzaga final, but absolutely nothing is certain in March. 56% of March Madness brackets had South Carolina losing to Marquette in the first round, but they proved those people wrong. Only 1.8% of brackets had South Carolina in the Elite Eight, and 0.6% had them reaching the Final Four. South Carolina has certainly rewarded the 0.6%.

Another March Madness tournament is coming to an end, and it has not disappointed (well, unless you were a fan of a team that got knocked out). The games have been thrilling, and the Final Four features a team that has made an improbable run to get there. South Carolina vs Gonzaga is scheduled to tip-off at 6:09 pm followed by Oregon vs UNC at 8:49 pm.