What NC, SC, Gonzaga, and Oregon are Bringing to the Court
Energy is high as fans await the 2017 NCAA Final Four. We are seeing history being made with some of this year’s Final Four teams making it to this stage, for the first time. Other teams have taken a long journey to make it back to a later stage of the tournament. As South Carolina faces off against Gonzaga, and North Carolina takes on Oregon, these teams are prepared to prove what they are made of and earn a spot in the championship.
So what exactly is the spark that makes each of these teams special? What is it about the dynamics and psychology behind each team’s drive, that has paved the way to the NCAA Final Four?
North Carolina has the most recent experience in the finals of the tournament, yet all four teams have strong potential to win it all. With a combination of talented players, powerful coaches, and unique abilities to turn up the heat in the final minutes, it’s likely these next games will go until the final buzzer.
2017 Final Four Talent
The South Carolina Gamecocks
South Carolina surprised everyone, especially since they were in the seventh seed weeks ago. Few had them in their NCAA brackets, but they proved everyone wrong with their defeat of Florida. Now they're in the Final Four for the first time in the school’s history.
What makes them stand out is their attention to attacking the basket, as well as an expert defense. They also exhibit what team basketball is all about: working together as one unit.
In addition to their focus on playing as a unit, South Carolina also has great individual talent. Sindarius Thornwell has proven to be a star player, coming out as South Carolina’s top scorer. He appears to have a court strategy for managing open shots in every game, making him one to watch in the final matchups.
From Thornwell to Coach Frank Martin (who came from Kansas), and other players like promising sophomore guard, PJ Dozier, this team has got a new magic formula that we can’t wait to see come together for the Final Four!
Anyone who knows Gonzaga’s NCAA history knows how close Gonzaga once came to advancing to the Final Four. It was 1999 and it slipped through their fingertips against UConn.
Nevertheless, they've been back to the NCAA Tournament 19 times since 1999, with the Final Four eluding them until now. Many give credit to coach Mark Few who helped build the team up exponentially over the last 18 years. He's taught his team some harsh lessons throughout their NCAA journeys, and has proven what a difference it can make when a coach communicates well with a talented team like Nigel Williams-Goss and Jordan Mathews.
We've seen a lot of sports teams come back to win national titles after being away for decades. For the Oregon Ducks, they haven't been back to the Final Four since 1939.
What has made Oregon strong this year, is the team’s ability to score huge in the first half of the game. When they played Iona, Oregon managed to score 55 points before halftime.
One of their strongest shooters is Jordan Bell who has amazingly overcome some of the strongest shooters in college basketball. Bell already has 12 rebounds in four games, plus three double-doubles.
Along with high-scorer F. Dillon Brooks and coach Dana Altman's previous NCAA experience, Oregon has a strong team, with a lot to prove. Perhaps it will be enough to overcome North Carolina's more recent Final Four experience.
North Carolina Tar Heels
Out of these teams, only North Carolina has recently made it to the Final Four. After almost winning the national title last year, they're back this year to give it another go. Experience is on their side, which could help them tremendously when going up against Oregon this round.
This recent success comes from a star lineup that includes forward, Kennedy Meeks. He recently noted the entire team is a little more relaxed this year based on last year’s experience. Being familiar with the territory, especially in comparison to your competitor, can be a valuable team asset. Thanks to this mindset, North Carolina is the heavy favorite to win.