Saturday night's Final Four matchup between South Carolina and Gonzaga comes down to the “maybes” vs the “finallys”. Nobody expected the Gamecocks to be here, especially as the 7th seed. Top seed Gonzaga's run wasn't a given either considering their past tournament woes and their status as a mid-major.
Oddsmakers have set the Gonzaga Bulldogs as -6.5 favorites with a total of 138.5. The Final Four games on Saturday will be direct opposites of each other as the stifling defense of South Carolina and methodical offense of Gonzaga pale in comparison to the fast pace of Oregon and North Carolina.
South Carolina are the darlings of the 2017 Tournament with their likeable coach Frank Miller and breakout star Sindarius Thornwell. The Gamecocks etched their mark as a force to be reckoned with in this tournament after their 88-81 upset over Duke. From their they beat a solid Baylor team and an upstart Florida squad to earn the school's first ever Final 4 berth.
Gonzaga finally exorcised their tournament demons on their path through the West region. It wasn't always pretty with a 6-point win over Northwestern and escaping West Virginia by 3 but the Bulldogs have made it to the Final 4 regardless. They played arguably their best basketball of the tournament in their latest game – an 83-59 win over Xavier. Overall, Gonzaga has lost only one game all season long.
So the argument in this game comes down to whether South Carolina can continue their improbable run or if Gonzaga will once again falter like they have done so many times in tournament's past. Will South Carolina win to set up a matchup of the Carolina's in Monday's Final or will Gonzaga and Oregon meet to show that West Coast basketball reigns supreme?
If you want to wager on the total, at first glance the under would seem to be the play. Gonzaga games have gone below the number in 3 of their 4 tourney games and South Carolina is renowned for their defensive prowess. Taking a closer look however, the over has actually hit in 3 of the 4 tourney matchups for the Gamecocks.
This game can be hard to pinpoint for many reasons. Is Gonzaga free of the reigns that have defined so many of their tournaments in the past or are they just waiting for an implosion ala Cubs fans in the World Series last year? Now that South Carolina can no longer fly under the radar, will they melt under the pressure of the big stage? With so many questions you need to take the points therefore South Carolina is the play.