Things to Watch at Final Four of the NCAA Tournament

Apr 02, 2017, 00:54
Things to Watch at Final Four of the NCAA Tournament

Exploiting matchups is the key to winning any basketball game.

The Pac-12 ended one lengthy drought when OR became the first conference representative in the Final Four since UCLA in 2008.

SC head coach Frank Martin watches as Hassani Gravett warms up during a practice session for their NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Friday, March 31, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.

Oregon's defensive rebounding vs.

The team then survived a late Stanford run to close out the game. But she played just 10 minutes in the second half and didn't take a shot. The Zags proved they can take a punch when they beat West Virginia last week in the West Regional and SC will need to rely on its defense to keep the season going. The McLean native and 2015 first-team All-Met from National Cathedral scored or assisted on 15 consecutive points as part of 17-5 burst, providing Stanford with a 21-14 lead that grew to as many as 10 with 1:33 left in the first half.

Two words likely to be heard from OR coach Dana Altman a lot: "Box out!"

No. 7 SC vs.

Gonzaga has a massive 1-2 punch up from with Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins. Alanna Smith also had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Rodney McGruder played three seasons for Martin at Kansas State and was on the receiving end of so numerous coach's tirades that he laughs when asked to recall one or two that stand out. "We're focused on SC". Gamecocks front courters Maik Kotsar and Chris Silva give up at least three inches and a whole lot of poundage to Karnowski. If Gonzaga avoids getting into foul trouble, it should advance to the national title game.

Pace game, OR vs. Next on the Ducks' agenda is becoming the first Pac-12 team to win a national championship since Arizona in 1997. They are also 4-1 ATS in their last five games as a underdog of 7.5 points or less. "I don't know what that is", Martin said during a news conference Friday with three of his players.

Sasha chose Gonzaga due to their regular season record and North Carolina because she shares a home state with the school.

Fast or slow, that could determine this side of the bracket.

As much as her teammates tried, the sixth-ranked Cardinal couldn't respond without the country's most accurate 3-point shooter. It took a rare 50-50 ball won in the air by Wilson to pull Stanford out of the way for a signature burst to the basket and layup to put SC up 45-40, the moment notable for its rarity. The Cardinal switched from a zone to a man-to-man throughout the half, and in both defenses the Gamecocks players with the ball were double-teamed in the lane. SC made just eight field goals the first half.

To knock off Gonzaga and keep this ride going, the Gamecocks will have to maintain their defensive chops. SC did, though, and followed with victories over Duke, Baylor and Florida to earn the matchup with West Region champion Gonzaga, the top-ranked team in the nation.

In other words, Gonzaga's defense is legitimate and has backed up those numbers in the NCAA tournament, holding Northwestern to 41% shooting, West Virginia to 26.7% and previously red-hot Xavier to 35.5%.

Gonzaga is looking to win its first championship as a continuation of the program's rise to prominence after the last two decades.

As individual matchups go, this is a good one.

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