Final Four Preview

When Syracuse lost to Pittsburgh in the first round of the ACC Tournament, fans and experts alike believed that at 19 wins, the Orange was going to fall short at the gates of the NCAA Tournament.

One month and a bon fire fueled by busted brackets later, Syracuse will take on North Carolina in the Final Four on Saturday at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim was so confident of this year’s team that the Orange voluntarily forfeited last season postseason eligibility in the face of NCAA sanctions in order to protect this year’s opportunity.

The Orange may have struggled throughout the regular season on their way to a 10 seed but the Orange have plenty of talent in the frontcourt. Michael Gbinije is Syracuse’s top scorer, averaging 16 points per game on 41 percent shooting and has proven to be one who can hit the three well and finish off the dribble. His rebounding is expected of his position but he can pass well for a forward.

Tyler Roberson averages a double-double (10.3 PPG, 11.8 RPG) and Tyler Lydon has been the talk of the tournament, averaging 10.2 points per game and a team leading 4.5 blocks per game.

The Orange will take on a North Carolina team that was long considered the team to beat. Among the Final Four teams, North Carolina is the only team that was projected to make it this far.

In the backcourt, it starts and ends with Marcus Paige. He was inconsistent last year but now averaging 12.3 points per game (14 during the tournament), the senior makes a substantial impact in the game with his presence alone.

What Paige is to the Tar Heels’ backcourt, Brice Johnson is to the frontcourt. Johnson averages an astounding 21 points per game on 63 percent shooting and 9.3 rebounds per game.

On the other side of what is left of the big bracket is Oklahoma and Villanova

Oklahoma has the clear-cut best player in the country in Buddy Hield, who recently won the Oscar Robertson Trophy, Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.presented by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association to the nation’s top college player for averaging 25.4 points and 5.7 rebounds this season.

While scoring over 20 points per game in the college level is impressive enough, what is even more impressive is his three-point shooting. The senior star shot 46.5 percent from beyond the key this season.

Oklahoma dominated Villanova 78-55 in the regular season but have the Wildcats to thank for bouncing Kansas in the Elite Eight.

Guard Ryan Arcidiacono, who averages 16 points per game on 62.5 shooting, leads the Villanova offensive attack. Daniel Ochefu is the top cat in the frontcourt, averaging a team leading 7.8 rebounds per game and 12.5 points per game on 66.7 percent shooting.

I didn’t put this on my bracket, sadly, but I predict Oklahoma will defeat Syracuse to win the national championship.

Photo by Getty Images 


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