Final Four finally forward to Phoenix

North+Carolinas+Luke+Maye+%2832%29+hits+a+game+winning+jump+shot+in+UNCs+75-73+victory+over+Kentucky.

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North Carolina’s Luke Maye (32) hits a game winning jump shot in UNC’s 75-73 victory over Kentucky.

DYLAN PADY, Sports Editor | [email protected]

The NCAA “March Madness” finals are just around the corner, and only three games remain until a champion will be decided. In the national semifinals, we will witness South Carolina take on Gonzaga University, followed by Oregon facing off against North Carolina. Gonzaga and South Carolina will play their game first around 6 p.m. The Oregon and North Carolina game will begin shortly after, just before 9 p.m.

South Carolina (No. 7) began their basketball-filled journey in the East division with a 20-point victory over Marquette (No. 10). After their essential “warm up” game, every team they faced afterwards was ranked higher and predicted to win. Their second game featured an 88-81 upset over Duke (No. 2), then another 20-point win against Baylor (No. 3). In their game against Florida (No. 4) for their chance at a Final Four spot, South Carolina walked away victorious after a 77-70 point game.

Representing the Midwest, Oregon (No. 3) had been the favored team for a majority of the tournament. Oregon’s first opponent was against Iona (No. 14), and they won 93-77. They faced Rhode Island (No. 11) and just barely squeaked by with a final score of 75-72.

In another extremely close victory, Oregon then beat Michigan (No. 7) by one point, 69-68. For their spot in the final four, Oregon would face Kansas (No. 1) and prove their worth as this was the first game the Ducks were predicted to lose; instead, Oregon would upset Kansas and win, 74-60.

In the West, Gonzaga (No. 1) was matched up against South Dakota State (No. 16), and the Bulldogs easily steamrolled past the Jackrabbits and won with a final score of 66-46. Afterwards, they faced Northwestern (No. 8) and won 79-73, followed by another victory against West Virginia (No. 4). In this game, the Bulldogs emerged victorious after a score of 61-58.

For Gonzaga’s position in the final four, they only had to beat Xavier (No. 11) and won 83-59. In my opinion, this was by far the easiest game within the elite eight, but it is easy to forget that anything can happen in basketball, especially during March.

The South was once again dominated by North Carolina (No. 1), and for good reason. Their first matchup against Texas Southern (No. 16) was entirely one-sided, and the Tar Heels won 103-64. Their next game was a little more balanced as they took the court against Arkansas (No. 8), but North Carolina still won 72-65.

In their Sweet 16 game against Butler (No. 4), North Carolina won by 12 after their 92-80 victory. UNC had a pretty easy schedule up until their elite eight matchup against Kentucky (No. 2). This was one of the most exciting games of the tournament, seeing the two strongest teams in the division going head to head for their spot at a Final Four game. North Carolina just barely clinched their victory after a final score of 75-73 was achieved.

I expect Gonzaga to defeat South Carolina. Then, I would be a very happy man if Oregon could beat North Carolina. No matter what the outcome, or how busted your bracket may be, it is safe to assume that everyone just wants to see some well-played, competitive basketball.

There is a lot of drama within the National Basketball Association at the moment, especially in regards to teams resting their starting players before the NBA finals roll around. In this year’s 2017 NCAA tournament, coverage across four channels (TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV) is currently averaging 9.8 million viewers; this is a 10 percent increase from last year.

For individuals with busy lives or simply anyone who prefers to stream the games online, the 2017 tournament produced a new record with 88 million live streams, an increase of 31 percent from last season.