UNC's Williams: Final Four legend among first-timers

His average has increased to 25.8 in the Gamecocks' four NCAA Tournament games thus far. "Everyone's nervous", the coach said.

The 2017 Final Four in Glendale is set, and the participants - North Carolina, South Carolina, Gonzaga and OR - have descended upon the Valley. For Gonzaga and SC, this is the first time in each program's history that their team has made it as far as the Final Four.

North Carolina has revenge on its mind after suffering a tough three-point loss to Villanova in last year's tournament championship game. There is another variable, too, that can't necessarily be quantified.

"I think when you get in the really big domes, I don't know that you feel a home crowd", said Tar Heels' coach Roy Williams.

Marcus Paige did it previous year for North Carolina with a clutch basket late in the national title game before Villanova's Kris Jenkins knocked down a game-winner. The 5-foot-10 freshman has started just once all year and plays 14.5 minutes per game, but has had some key production in the NCAA Tournament - most notably by tallying 15 points, four rebounds and three assists in the upset of 2-seed Duke in the East Region's second round.

Nigel Williams-Goss is the Nigel Williams-Goss that played against Xavier and not the Nigel Williams-Goss that played against West Virginia. These are situations in which intangibles may set clutch players apart.

The Final Four and national championship games will be televised on CBS. Hayes and guard Bronson Koenig were the headliners of a savvy senior class that produced in crunch time. If North Carolina point guard Joel Berry is healthy for this one, and is finding Jackson in transition, he could go for at least 20 points on Saturday night.

On Thursday, we sat down with Tar Heels legend Phil Ford and some of his teammates from the 1977 team - that made it all the way to the National Championship.

Martin said it wasn't the losing that bothered him; it was the apathy.

Under then Head Coach Dean Smith, the Tar Heels lost the 1977 title game to Marquette 67-59. The Gamecocks have never reached the Final Four. Dorsey hit a contested, go-ahead 3 from the top of the arc with 38.4 seconds after tying the game with a 3 with 1:45 left.

Gonzaga's strength is its defense, while its offense has been inconsistent in the tournament.

At University of Phoenix Stadium Glendale, Ariz. They changed a downtown street name to South Carolina Street.

"Am I rooting for any team in particular in the Final Four?". They played some man and they played some matchup zone, and it helped keep Josh Jackson and Devonte' Graham from finding any kind of a rhythm on the perimeter. "They believe they can do it, but they also realize it can go the other way and that bothers them so they stay committed to the task".

OR junior forward Jordan Bell was the player of the game, as he put up a double-double performance with 11 points and game-high 13 rebounds, while also dishing four assists and blocking eight shots.

AP Sports Writers Teresa Walker, Janie McCauley and Pete Iocabelli contributed to this story. I'm telling you, from that point on, they were looking for (Bell).

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  • Julie Sanders