South Carolina and Gonzaga on the defensive in Final Four

North Carolina, which was the top seed in the South, is in the Final Four for the second consecutive season, having lost in the 2016 final when Villanova's Kris Jenkins hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. University of OR makes its first trip to the Final Four in 78 years and Coach Dana Altman discusses what it takes for the Ducks to clench the team's first NCAA Championship since 1939.

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File). Once again I like the underdog in the Final Four matchup, as this is a game I could see the Ducks winning outright.

But youhaven't fully previewed the Final Four until you've seen who the real experts - the puppies from the "Tonight Show" - are picking to win the national title.

In some form or other, that question has lingered at North Carolina all season.

The victor advances to the NCAA championship game on Monday, April 3, 2017, against the victor of the other Final 4 game between OR and North Carolina.

"The most inadequate feeling I've ever had in my life", Williams called the aftermath of the game. "I miss them a lot". Just check out the title of their group text: Redemption.

South Carolina's ball-pressure defense is created to force opponents to start their offense much further from the basket than they'd like, force players to be out of position when making catches, and make it hard for opposing guards to work the ball inside.

"A dream was to get here", Jackson said. "I get it. I'm lucky that I started my career [at Kansas State] with two of them".

OR (33-5) provides a contrast. The North Carolina Tar Heels have won 17 of their last 20 neutral site games. The Heels will look to dominate the Ducks on the glass. They are an excellent rebounding team and their guard play has been solid all year. The first came in 1939, the first year of the tournament.

"But in my off night when I'm in the gym or something I might do that two or three times the whole time I'm in there, and it normally doesn't go in", Chiozza said. Every player out there is going to deal with nerves.

There are a handful of names to know before the games tip off, starting with Oregon's Tyler Dorsey.

With families and friends rolling into town Friday, Martin said the team has established rules for when and when players can hang out with hangers-on. "Nothing to figure out, really", he said.

Along those lines, Ducks guard Dylan Ennis says: "We don't want to just have a good three days here, we want to have a lifetime of memories". I ended up getting it. It's not as if the Tar Heels were left with a bare résumé after Villanova snatched the title from their hands in the closing seconds past year. For the season, the Gamecocks average 18.1 points off opponent's turnovers, the nation's second-best figure.

I know North Carolina is the more balanced team, has the experience and a coach who has been here done that many times. Senior guard Sindarius Thornwell may not be 100 percent as he has battled flu-like symptoms all week.

"I think all the guys have picked it up a little bit, just knowing that Chris isn't there", Altman said.

Many of those good times were on basketball courts during pick-up games.

  • Julie Sanders