The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is now down to a quartet of teams. The survivors, known as the Final Four, will joust for the hardware this coming weekend.
Fan favorite Gonzaga continued its success after a dominant 36-1 regular season. The Spokane based private Catholic university is making its first ever trip to the Final Four after winning the West region where they will face the unheralded South Carolina Gamecocks.
South Carolina was the recipient of a generous helping of fortuitous luck after the top two seeds in the East – Duke and Villanova – were both upset on the first weekend with the Blue Devils falling to SC. It is also South Carolina’s first Final Four.
Coming out of the Midwest region are the Oregon Ducks who were able to overcome the loss of leading shot-blocker and rebound machine Chris Boucher who suffered a devastating knee injury in the Pac-12 tourney. Many had predicted that the Ducks would be in dire straits without the versatile Boucher but that’s why they play the games. This is Oregon’s first Final Four appearance since 1939.
Rounding out the field is perennial college basketball powerhouse North Carolina. The Tar Heels are coming out of what many had called the weakest bracket in the tournament but the cream always rises to the top as they did in the East.
Michael Jordan’s alma matter has won six championships in twenty appearances with the last one coming in 2009. If they are able to win two more games against unlikely upstarts, they can add a seventh next Monday night.
But then again what do I know? My own brackets laid in smoking ruins after the opening weekend.
It’s been one heck of a tournament this year with upsets aplenty and there are still three games to go.