March Madness continues this Saturday as the Final Four teams remaining square off for championship bids. As usual, nobody in the world predicted these would be the four teams left standing. South Carolina made sure of that, considering only 0.6 percent of people even had them in there, according to ESPN.com.
If your bracket is still somewhat intact, congratulations. You are one of few not to get bamboozled by the losses of powerhouses like Duke, Villanova, Kansas and Kentucky. If you are one of the millions who threw another paycheck into the abyss of March Madness betting, do not panic. There are still three more games to make your money back, but it will not be easy with these match-ups.
The Final Four tips off at 6:09 p.m. this Saturday, the first game being the South Carolina Gamecocks versus the Gonzaga Bulldogs. South Carolina is one of the biggest surprises to make the Final Four in a long time. They have not won a tournament game since 1973, this is their first Final Four appearance and they somehow made it out of a region featuring Duke and Villanova.
Not to mention they are the first seven seed in the Final Four since 1984. For these reasons, they have been underdogs in almost every game they played, and that will not change against one seed Gonzaga. However, being an underdog did not stop them thus far, and star guard Sindarius Thornwell does not plan on letting it stop them this weekend.
Gonzaga, on the other side, is a one seed, but they are also a mid-major. Mid-majors generally do not get much respect because of the low level of competition they play against, but this team can play. Their talent is well spread-out and they are used to playing in the tournament, unlike South Carolina. Consider them favorites in this game, but I do not think anyone would be surprised by a Gamecock win.
The other side of the Final Four looks a lot easier to predict, even though it never is. North Carolina is currently the best team remaining. They are playing an elite level of basketball and Roy Williams does not even flinch at the pressure of the Final Four, considering he has been there eight times before. Oregon has not been there since they won the inaugural tournament in 1939.
However, they did just take down Kansas in what was a blowout for the most part. Oregon looked great in that game, but Josh Jackson played awfully, scoring zero points in the first half. By the time the first half came to an end, it was too late for Kansas to come back, especially with Jackson playing below par. Oregon will not get that lucky this round, and Joel Berry and company will most likely show that they are the better team.
This weekend will be a thriller, as all Final Fours are, but gamblers should stay away from South Carolina. North Carolina is by far the safest team left, but nobody is ever safe in March.