If anything has been proven in recent weeks, it is how unpredictable March Madness continues to be. A slow start to the tournament was comprised with many upsets and close games all throughout the second week of action. As time dwindles down for the Final Four to begin, the same goal remains. Win or go home.

So far in the tournament, the biggest surprise to many comes out of the East Region. After barely making the field of 64, the South Carolina Gamecocks will be playing in their first Final Four in program history. Underdogs in most of their games, a stout defensive minded team has continued to find ways to win. They defeated Marquette in the first round, and continued to show dominance with impressive victories over Duke, Baylor, and conference rival Florida in the following rounds. Even though South Carolina will face Gonzaga in the Final Four, the last thing you want to do is doubt this team. Frank Martin and the Gamecocks have continued to prove people wrong, all season long.

South Carolina’s opponent, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, are also headed to their first Final Four in school history. The Bulldogs made it to Phoenix with a mix of veteran leadership and underclass talent. Nobody should complain about Gonzaga being a one seed, even though making it to the Final Four wasn’t the easiest for them. In the Round of 64, the Bulldogs found themselves in a deadlock with the #16 seed South Dakota State. They pulled away in the second half, but failed to beat a team handedly in the next two rounds either. Gonzaga only won by eight against Northwestern, and they held on with a three point victory over West Virginia. The Bulldogs then went on to blowout a tournament friendly team (Xavier) in the Elite Eight. Win or lose, Gonzaga will finish with their best season in program history.

Next, are a few teams back for redemption after a disappointing finish to last year. First, like South Carolina and Gonzaga, the Oregon Ducks are in unfamiliar territory. The Ducks will be appearing in only their second Final Four in school history. Luckily, Oregon fans will be able to remember this Final Four. The last Final Four they appeared in was in 1939. The Ducks arrived in Phoenix with an impressive résumé. After not surprising anyone with a victory over Iona in the Round of 64, Oregon was able to cool off some of the hottest teams in the country. Impressive wins over Rhode Island, Michigan, and Kansas, show why the Ducks may be the most worthy team of a spot in the Final Four.

To conclude the Final Four teams, the North Carolina Tar Heels aren’t a shock to anyone. They have more Final Four appearances than the other three teams mentioned earlier, combined. 2017 marks the twentieth Final Four for them. After being within minutes of getting upset in the second round to Arkansas, the road for the Tar Heels hasn’t become any easier. North Carolina defeated Butler in the Sweet Sixteen, and was seconds away from going to overtime with Kentucky in the Elite Eight. If it wasn’t for the heroics of sophomore and former walk-on, Luke Maye, against Kentucky, the Tar Heels may have had to watch the Final Four from Chapel Hill. North Carolina will face Oregon in the Final Four, and it should have a similar championship type feel reminiscent of the Kentucky game.

With that being said, the Final Four should be one to remember. Many new faces have arrived, and only one team’s clock won’t strike midnight. The door is still open for who is going to leave Phoenix rapturous. Clear your schedule for the upcoming days because it is going to be fun.

Final Four Schedule and Start Times

Saturday, April 1 – South Carolina vs. Gonzaga – 5:09 PM

Saturday, April 1 – Oregon vs. North Carolina – 7:49 PM

Monday, April 3 – Championship Game (TBA)

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