Stage is set for Final Four teams

Staff sports writer Khari Davis profiles each team and makes his pick for who will win it all in Phoenix.

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Khari Davis


Oregon Ducks

When Oregon lost their star power forward Chris Boucher in the Pac-12 championship semifinals, sports analysts doubted the Ducks. However, the injury has not stopped the Ducks from carving out some wins in the 2017 NCAA tournament. In Boucher’s absence, junior Jordan Bell has stepped up. Bell has dominated the boards since, grab
bing 12 or more rebounds in five straight games. In the Elite Eight win over Kansas, Bell’s eight blocks led his team to victory. As the Pac-12 Player of the year, Dillon Brooks is a force to reckon with. Brooks keeps the offense going with his aggressive style of play. His backcourt partner, shooting guard Tyler Dorsey, is often overlooked because of Brooks’ phenomenal play. But the 20-year-old Greek international is a game changer for the Ducks. Dorsey has been on a long stretch of success with five straight 20 point plus games on excellent shooting from deep.

Overall, the team’s depth could earn the Ducks a National Championship. In the Sweet 16, the Ducks finished strong in a close game against a hot Michigan team. Oregon once again proved themselves by beating a Kansas team that looked unstoppable to that point. Oregon can beat some of the nation’s best teams because of how they put all of their pieces together. When the Ducks get to quacking, they’re a tough egg to crack. With their win over the Jayhawks, Oregon not only became the first Pac-12 team to reach the Final Four since 2008, but also secured their first trip in 78 year

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Gonzaga has only one loss all season, but they faced weak competition within the West Coast Conference. Throughout the years, Gonzaga has been a underdog in the NCAA tournament bracket because of their weak schedule. This tournament, the ‘Dogs have been off the leash with their dominance in all parts of the game. However, this year they have built a tough fort to demolish. What makes the Bulldogs so great is that it’s hard to find a flaw in the team. They have an amazing guard, Nigel William-Goss, who is a Wooden Award fin
alist,the highest achievement a player can receive in college basketball. The Bulldogs also have bigs than can clean the boards and score with three players over seven feet. Polish power forward Przemek Karnowski is 7 feet tall,  weighs 300 pounds and dominates in the post. He is also a fifth year senior who draws on 4 tournament experiences. Because of their abundant amount of experience, Gonzaga truly meets all requirements of a great team. Gonzaga being the full package gives them the highest chance to win it all.

South Carolina Gamecocks

Seeded seventh in the East region, South Carolina was not expected to make it this far in the tournament. The team had the hardest route of any Final Four team. Senior guard Sindarius Thornwell has been a thorn in a lot of teams sides this past week. His attitude is to prove everybody wrong. Throughout the tournament, Thornwell has told his team to “secure the bag”. His team surely has fed off his energy and has been securing the bag. The team’s success in the tournament comes from the Gamecocks’ scrappy style of play. They just refuse to back down from any higher seeded team. The team’s grit and determination gave the team the extra push to beat the Duke Blue Devils in the Round of 32. Some said afterwards that this game was a fluke and the better team just didn’t come out on top. In their next game, the Gamecocks executed another upset, with a 20 point win over the talented Baylor Bears. Once again, in the Elite Eight, the Gamecocks surprised audiences with a win over an athletic University of Florida team.

The college basketball world was wrong about the Gamecocks. These wins aren’t upsets. It’s just an example of hard work and effort beating talent. It’s an example of one team wanting it more than the other. Once again, in a few days, with no clear star, the Gamecocks will play the most favored team to win the National Championship the first seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs. If they win, commentators will call it the biggest upset of March Madness but it won’t be. The Gamecocks have proven to be a team that can compete and beat anybody in the tournament.

North Carolina Tar Heels

The North Carolina Tar Heels entered the Final Four with their weakest team in years. The Tar Heels have a few talented and skilled players, but they just don’t have a stacked team like that of years past. They lost NBA players, Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson.

The Tar Heels lack a backcourt that worries opponents, but their frontcourt consists of NBA prospects Kennedy Meeks and Justin Jackson. These two players bring Final Four experience from last year. However, what is truly taking the Tar Heels so far is the coach’s experience.

Roy Williams has coached 520 minutes in Final Four games. In comparison, the other three remaining coaches have no Final Four experience. Williams might have trouble drawing up a defense that can stop Oregon’s overwhelming talent. On the other hand, the Tar Heels did contain the best backcourt in the nation, Kentucky’s Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox. Their strong win over Kentucky in the Elite Eight could give the Tar Heels confidence to beat Oregon. This game had fans on both sides on their toes. With less than a minute left, Kentucky’s Malik Monk hit an amazing three to tie the game. The Tar Heels bought the ball down on a fastbreak and found forward Luke Maye for a long 2-pointer which punched the Tar Heels’ ticket to Phoenix for the Final Four.


National Championship pick

Of these unexpected Final Four, the strongest team to win the National Championship is Oregon. The style of play they’ve been playing is unordinary, and all  of the players on the court are producing at their highest level. Tyler Dorsey and Dillon Brooks are both averaging double figures. Jordan Bell is dominating on the boards by grabbing 12 or more rebounds each game.

Style of play is just one factor, though, that makes Oregon a contender to win it all. Executing is a common weakness in basketball, but the Ducks know how to finish a game. When a team is tired and cannot think straight could affect a team’s mentality. However this is not the case for Oregon, as this tournament they have finished teams off late in the second half. Oregon has made back to back game changing plays when it comes to the last two minutes in the game. If the Oregon Ducks continue to soar in their Final Four matchups, they will fly away with the National Championship trophy.

 

 

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Contact the writer at 18kharidavis@csdecatur.net