The NCAA’s Final Four takes place Saturday night, with the men’s basketball championship following on Monday. This is one of the more eclectic fields in quite some time.
You know all about North Carolina’s storied history, its five national titles and its general dominance of the landscape. That Carolina blue, however, is the only blueblood in the Final Four. And the Tar Heels were in the championship game last year, losing to Villanova on a last-second shot.
The others? They’ve reached new heights. South Carolina has never been this far. Gonzaga, that mini-powerhouse from the Pacific Northwest, is also in its first Final Four. And Oregon, which won the first NCAA basketball title in 1939, is back for the first time since. That’s 78 years, if you’re keeping score at home.
A couple of quick facts to help you enjoy the two matchups, which are: No. 7 seed South Carolina vs. No. 1 Gonzaga at 6:09 p.m. ET, and No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 1 North Carolina at approximately 8:49 p.m., both on CBS.
1. North Carolina. The Tar Heels are an aggressive offensive rebounding team. They get and create second shots. On the other hand, coach Roy Williams wears blue plaid jackets that look like a couch from Animal House.
2. Oregon. The Ducks don’t rush. They can play fast but tend to keep things under control and like to set up. This will be an interesting counter to North Carolina’s style. On the other hand, the Ducks wear uniforms that are so garish you may want to don sunglasses.
3. South Carolina. Intense defensive team that knocked out three of the top four seeds in its bracket. On the other hand, coach Frank Martin could have been the guy who posed for Munch’s painting The Scream. He’s an old yeller.
4. Gonzaga. Nigel Williams-Goss. Who cares if he can play (and he can)? What a great name. His next job will be Duke of Marlborough. Gonzaga is on the verge of a long-awaited breakthrough. Tennessee coach Rick Barnes’ team went 0-5 against the Final Four teams and he says his gut tells him Gonzaga will win the tournament.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman