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As we had teased yesterday, we were guaranteed a new entrant into the 2017 Final Four to be played in Glendale, Arizona next weekend. It will be the Gonzaga Bulldogs – they smashed Xavier 83-59 yesterday. While Gonzaga hadn’t shot well on a consistent basis all tournament long, they found their shots yesterday, especially from outside the arc. Xavier stuck with their gameplan for most of the tournament essentially daring teams to beat them from the outside and pack in the lane. Gonzaga will now await the winner of the East Regional between Florida and South Carolina this afternoon.
For the second year in a row, both Oregon and Kansas advanced to the Elite 8, but this time the Ducks were able to hit an extra gear and they will advance to the Final Four for the first time since the inaugural NCAA Tournament was played in 1939. Much to the horror of the quasi-hometown crowd, Oregon beat Kansas rather handily by a 74-60 final score. The Ducks now await the winner of the Kentucky-North Carolina game in the South Region.
East Region (New York, NY)) (all times Eastern)
(7) SOUTH CAROLINA vs. (4) FLORIDA (CBS, 2:20 PM). Today’s matchup represents the 3rd time this season that the Gamecocks and Gators will face each other this season (with each team winning on their home court). South Carolina’s defense suffocated Baylor in their win on Friday night and had an easier night than Florida did – they survived a meltdown in the end of regulation and needed a clutch block from Canyon Barry and a game-winning 3-pointer in overtime to knock out Wisconsin. South Carolina continues to break barriers in their program’s history, whereas Florida has an opportunity to reach the Final Four under their 3rd different coach (Lon Kruger and Billy Donovan were the first two).
South Region (Memphis, TN) (all times Eastern)
(2) KENTUCKY vs. (1) NORTH CAROLINA (CBS, 5:05 PM). This is also a regular-season rematch of a game played back in December in Las Vegas. Kentucky won the first matchup, although North Carolina wasn’t completely healthy at the time. While the Tar Heels struggled to beat Arkansas last week, they had little trouble knocking out Butler on Friday. Kentucky wore down UCLA in their Sweet 16 matchup and had an easier time than their close call against Wichita State the week before.