The Final Four is set to tip off soon and we are ready to roll the dice and predict the outcomes of tonight’s NCAA contests.
South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs 6:09 PM CBS
The two scrappiest teams of the tournament face off in what could turn out to be the best matchup of the year.
Gonzaga has the advantage when it comes to the bigs. Their 7-footers in Przemek Karnowski and freshman Zach Collins are surprisingly efficient for their size. The Bulldogs also have a 6-9 forward in Johnathan Williams.
On the other bench, South Carolina has the best player left in the damn thing in senior guard Sindarius Thornwell.
Thornwell is the story tonight and his maturity and the leadership will lift the Gamecocks into their first National Title game.
Bulldogs coach Mark Few understands the challenge that Thornwell poses to his team’s title dreams.
“His kind of whole package is very dangerous,” Few told the media. “Just kind of the intensity that he brings to the game. He can hurt you on the glass. He can hurt you shooting it. He can hurt you off the bounce. He gets to the free throw line a lot. Yeah, he’s definitely going to be a handful.”
Opposing coach Frank Martin rebuilt South Carolina into something special from the ashes of something terrible.
Tonight they take another step towards finishing their Cinderella Story.
Pick: South Carolina Tops Gonzaga 82-79
North Carolina Tarheels vs. Oregon Ducks 8:49 PM CBS
The Tarheels are the New England Patriots of this thing. They have all of the tradition and all of the pieces in play in their favor.
Yet like a true winner Coach Roy Williams isn’t taking the Ducks lightly, despite the fact that they are down a big in Chris Boucher.
“We feel like it’s extremely important to get the other team in foul trouble,” Williams said. “The biggest way to get their big guys in foul trouble is to go inside. That’s something that’s been important for us ever since I started coaching, and I still believe that. And [Tarheel] Kennedy [Meeks] does a great job rebounding the basketball.
“I do think you have to have some guys that can make 3-point shots. But I’ve seen very few teams win the NCAA championship just shooting threes, because everybody’s got somebody inside that can give you a little balance.”
Rebounding is going to make the difference in this thing and for that reason and that reason alone, the Tarheels will edge out the Ducks.
Oregon has a quality team and quality coaching but the Tarheels know how to fight, claw and steal vital possessions away from their opponents.
THIS is the game where Boucher was needed. His ACL injury will come up big here and it’s the primary thing that will prevent them from creating an underdog’s duel on Monday night.
The Battle for the Carolinas is almost here.
Pick: North Carolina tops Oregon 88-84