Breaking News:

Keep up with So Much Sports on Twitter @SoMuchSports

Final Four Breakdown

The Final Four has been set and it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Literally. Gonzaga and South Carolina are in their first Final Fours ever and Oregon is in their first Final Four since 1939. Of course, the powerhouse that is North Carolina is in still in the field, which makes things so interesting, because while we might see something new, we might just see another title added to the Tar Heels collection.

Before the NCAA Tournament, we broke down the No. 1 seeds. Two of them still stand, but not it’s time to break down all of the remaining teams, with why they can win it all, and why they won’t.

South Carolina Gamecocks

The Road to the Final Four

South Carolina lost six of their final 10 games before entering the NCAA Tournament as a No. 7 seed, but they were given a favorable location in Greenville, South Carolina and beat a strong 3-point shooting Marquette squad and then pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament by beating second-seeded Duke. The emotion of that victory is still fueling this team and led them to wins over No. 3 seeded Baylor and No. 4 seeded Florida.

Why They Can Win

Everything for South Carolina starts with their head coach Frank Martin. He’s always been a great coach, but in this tournament, he’s been able to shine. He is a no-nonsense kind of guy who stresses defense, aggressiveness, and discipline. The Gamecocks won’t beat themselves with stupid mistakes and their incredible defense has proven it can shut down any high-powered offense. Offensively, South Carolina loves to attack the rim. Sindarius Thornwell is a great scorer who picks up a ton of fouls while slashing inside, but he can also hit from 3-point range too.

Why They Won’t Win

The Gamecocks have over-performed offensively in this tournament compared to what they’ve done this season. They came into the tournament with a reputation of being offensively challenged and if they struggle to score like they have been doing then their defense might not make up for it. Thornwell is a great player, but he’s the only legitimate threat they have to take over a game. The rest of the team is streaky. South Carolina ranked 299th nationally in effective field goal percentage.

Oregon Ducks

The Road to the Final Four

Everybody counted Oregon out when they lost Chris Boucher in the Pac-12 semifinals, but the Ducks have done a great job adjusting. They easily beat No. 13 seed Iona in their first game of the tournament. Two days later they were stuck in a battle with an under-seeded No. 11 Rhode Island squad but then went on to get another gutsy win over Michigan before destroying Kansas in a game that was no as close as the final score to earn their first trip to the Final Four they won it all in 1939.

Why They Can Win

Oregon has some guys who can really score the ball. While maybe not as high-flying of an offense as they’ve been the past few years, Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey are two guys who can get the ball in the hoop in a variety of different ways. The Ducks have four guys who averaged double-digits for the year (excluding Boucher) and the team has a lot of success from 3-point range. And let’s not ignore who Dana Altman is. He may not have one of the biggest names in college basketball, but he’s 10th all-time with 597 victories. He’s guided Oregon, previously an afterthought in college basketball, to three Sweet 16s.

Why They Won’t Win

Maybe the Ducks have learned to live without Boucher inside, but when they lost him they still lost their best big man and that’s hard to live without for an entire NCAA Tournament. A team that’s big inside and good at rebounding can stress the Ducks interior. Their perimeter defense also is a worry. Kansas just didn’t shoot well from distance, but they still attempted 25 from beyond the arc because they were getting decent looks. If a better 3-point shooting team can have more success from distance, the Ducks could be in trouble.

North Carolina Tar Heels

The Road to the Final Four

The regular season champions of the ACC were given the No. 1 seed in the South Regional bracket and easily moved past a far overmatched Texas Southern. They were given a tougher game than expected by Arkansas but then crushed Butler before hitting a ridiculous shot in the final second to beat Kentucky in a thriller to earn their spot in the Final Four.

Why They Can Win

Simply put, UNC has been the best team in the tournament this year. Maybe they were put through some tough tests, but Kentucky would have likely won a different region. But the Tar Heels were able to get out of the best region in the bracket for a reason. They’re dominant in the paint and have one of the best overall offenses in the country. And let’s not forget that this team looked like they were about to win the Championship last season before that great buzzer beater by Villanova. They know what it takes to get there.

Why They Won’t Win

The Tar Heel’s don’t shoot a ton of 3-pointers, which is always an equalizer for a team that might not have as much talent. They’re good from distance, but they aren’t great and could go cold. While we shouldn’t be worried about the close game against Kentucky, they did give up three huge shots at the end before hitting their own miracle shot. They also struggled to put Arkansas away. Their defense will let an opponent stay in a game.

Gonzaga Bulldogs

The Road to the Final Four

The Bulldogs finally broke through and got to the Final Four, but it wasn’t easy. Of course, they destroyed South Dakota State in their Round of 64 game, but the were against the ropes against both Northwestern and West Virginia. The no-call goaltending call that led to Chris Collins’ technical foul halted the Wildcats run. West Virginia had a chance for a final shot, but then looked completely lost and didn’t even get a shot off. Gonzaga did cruise to a big win over Xavier in the Elite Eight, but that Musketeers squad was an 11-seed that wasn’t supposed to be there.

Why They Can Win

The Bulldogs defense is much better than it has been in recent years. Przemek Karnowski is a load inside who shuts down the paint and Nigel Williams-Goss is a tremendous athlete who can match up against anybody outside. Those matchups translate to the offensive end too, where Karnowski can use his size to beat anybody to the rim and Williams-Goss can score against anybody.

Why They Won’t Win

Gonzaga doesn’t have many flaws, but the fact that they were pushed as much as they were by Northwestern and West Virginia show they can be vulnerable. Karnowski is and load, but he’s not a huge athlete. The lack of competition in conference play is always the worry with this team, making us wonder how they’ll handle the back-to-back-to-back-to-back games against elite opponents.

The following two tabs change content below.

Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

Comments are closed.