Final Four Preview

John Keen

final 4
Photo Courtesy of NCAA

Gonzaga, North Carolina, Oregon and South Carolina. One would be hard pressed to find a more diverse group of schools to makeup this year’s Final Four.

While only North Caroli- na, making its 20th Final Four appearance in school history, features any players on its roster with national semifi- nal experience, the field’s remaining teams still offer an interesting mix of experience and talented freshmen.

Starting with South Car- olina, this year’s Cinderella team lead by SEC player of the year, Sindarius thornwell and former Kansas State head coach Frank Martin, is a team loaded with veteran leader- ship and savvy defense.

Martin credits the team’s attitude and individual play- er’s personality for buying into his defensive system.

“We got to have guys that

are going to believe in our mission, that are going to be- lieve in what we want to do. Once they believe, then we can teach them the technique. It all starts with our mindset. We have got guys that are completely bought into what we do,” he said according to

South Carolina will square off Saturday night with Gonzaga. Gonzaga, like South Carolina, is making its first Final Four Appearance in school history.

Unlike South Carolina, Gonzaga, led by Mark Few, who has coached the Bull- dogs since 1999, offers a ros- ter that has previous tourna- ment experience, while also featuring talented freshmen such as 7-foot tall forward Zach Collins.

The game between South Carolina and Gonzaga will come down to one factor:

which team can score enough baskets against the other’s stifling defense? Whichever team can answer this ques- tion, will move onto the Na- tional title game.

On the bracket’s other side, is a matchup between Oregon, making its first Final four appearance since the in- augural tournament in 1939, and last year’s National title runner-up North Carolina.

While Oregon’s football team is known for its up-tem- po, high-octane offense, its basketball team has stamped its name as one of the nation’s elite defenses.

Anchored by veteran forward Josh Bell, one of the nation’s elite shot block- ers, the Ducks defense was able to shutdown Kansas’s high-scoring offense with Bell deterring shots at the rim (he finished the game with eight blocks.)