And then there were four...
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The second weekend of March Madness has now come to an end and it is now down to the Final Four, but before we take a look at the matchups, let us look back at the weekend’s games.
This past weekend marks the end to a cinderella story for the Xavier Musketeers, as they fell on Saturday to No. 1 seed Gonzaga. Xavier’s run was one for the ages, capped off by a close victory against Arizona in the Sweet 16. The Zags, with breakout performances by seniors, Przemek Karnowski on Thursday and Nigel Williams Goss on Saturday, will play in their first Final Four in school history. Despite their shaky performance in the Sweet 16 against West Virginia, the team looks to now have momentum heading into next weekend.
The Bulldogs were not the only team to face a close call, as the Oregon Ducks battled Michigan, winning down the stretch through clutch performances by Tyler Dorsey (20 points, go-ahead layup) and Jordan Bell (16 points, victory securing rebound). While, the Kansas Jayhawks, blew out Purdue to reach the Elite Eight once again behind another great performance by guard Frank Mason III (26 points). Meeting on Saturday in the Elite Eight, Dorsey and Bell proved to be unstoppable as both scored in double digits and the Ducks beat Kansas to advance to their first Final Four since 1939.
The headlines for this season have been taken over single-handedly by Lavar Ball and his son at UCLA, guard Lonzo Ball. On Friday the Bruins played a very talented Kentucky team, losing by 11 behind a 39-point performance by De’Aaron Fox. With the win, Kentucky, possibly the most talented team in this tournament with three possible NBA lottery picks, advanced to the Elite Eight against the North Carolina Tarheels. A team hungry to reach the title game for the second straight year. After an easy victory against Butler, the Tar Heels sealed their ticket to the Final Four in dramatic fashion, as Luke Mayes hit a jumper with 0.3 seconds left after a clutch three by Wildcat, Malik Monk. This is what March Madness is all about.
Finally the South Carolina Gamecocks, a team who had not won a tournament game since 1973, has done the impossible. And if there is one name you should know in college basketball now, it is Sindarius Thornwell. Thornwell on Friday led the Gamecocks to a comfortable 20-point blowout against Baylor. Florida on the other hand, shattered Nigel Hayes and Wisconsin’s hopes at one last run at a title with a Gators’ buzzer-beating three as time expired. Then on Sunday, Thornwell once again came to play as he finished off the Gators in a 77-70 victory. Helping the Gamecocks reach their first ever Final Four appearance.
Four teams, two with no experience in the Final Four, and only one coach with any experience in the Final Four. March Madness fans are in for a treat on Saturday as Oregon will face off against North Carolina and Gonzaga will play South Carolina. Who will win? Who will face off in the finals for a chance to be champions? Watch Saturday to find out.