Four are left standing in this ultimate elimination cage match that is the NCAA tournament. North Carolina, South Carolina, Gonzaga and Oregon all head to Phoenix for the chance to reign as supreme ruler of the NCAA basketball realm.
Alas the final four is set, and we are in for a doozy of games. But let’s first look at a couple things from the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 games.
We saw LaVar Ball’s oldest son, Lonzo, basically no show the biggest game of his career for UCLA, and we saw essentially what will get De’Aaron Fox a seat at the draft. Fox outplayed Ball and helped Kentucky punch their ticket to a rematch with UNC.
What I thought was the game of the year had the finish of the year as well. Malik Monk hits a highly contested three which led to former walk-on Luke Maye hitting the 2 point jumper to punch the Heel’s ticket to the Final 4.
Oregon in the Midwest had Kansas Jayhawk on the menu in the Elite 8. They had their Jayhawks smoked, and Tyler Dorsey had himself 27 points on the night. Ducks star Dillon Brooks had his hefty helping with 17 points as well.
This duo could just be getting started, as Brooks is just a junior and Dorsey is a sophomore. Dorsey is looking like the tourney MVP for the Ducks, having 4 straight games with 20 points, 2 of those games were 27 point nights. The Ducks might want to lean on Dorsey then go to Brooks in the waning moments.
I have been a Gonzaga hater this entire season and probably always will be. But I will give it up for the Zags, they have proved their worth to me. The absolutely destroyed Xavier, but still got away with highway robbery against Northwestern. Their Sweet 16 game with WVU was a great one, Jordan Mathews had ice in his veins when he drained that 3 ball. Happy for Mark Few, he finally got to the big one.
And then there is the Cinderella story, the South Carolina Gamecocks. They have beaten a 2, 3 and a 4 seed this tournament. Duke, Baylor and Florida have all been pecked to death by Carolina. One thing is for sure, Sindarius Thornwell can sure play. He has been nothing short of spectacular. South Carolina is now faced with Gonzaga, and can complete the sweep of a top 4 seed grouping.
So let’s start there, Carolina comes in the 7 seed and are playing unbelievably. The contrasting styles, the depth, and the guard play are three things that are going pivotal in this tilt. Thornwell is going to have to be the best player on the court. Nigel Williams-Goss is going to oppose him, and that’s got to be an exciting matchup. I am biting the bullet and sticking with the Cinderella, give me South Carolina in a great one.
Now to the other side of the bracket with Oregon and North Carolina, I am going to be short and sweet with this one. I like Carolina and I like Carolina big. The redemption they are looking for is going to be found here. They are too deep for Oregon, and have too many weapons. After what Luke Maye and Theo Pinson were able to do in the last game, they are just the next guys up. Before them they have Joel Berry and Justin Jackson. Brooks and Dorsey put up a fight, but it’s not enough.
So the final will be a battle of the Carolinas. The redemption bid against the Cinderella story out of nowhere. Justin Jackson has his career defining game as the Heels win and get their redemption. Thornwell will have himself a night, but will not be able to get the job done. “The Ceiling is the roof”, or whatever MJ said will come to fruition. The Heels will not be denied this time around, Justin Jackson wins MOP.
“Wow, what a finish.” will be said by all.