Final Four: Oregon vs North Carolina previewPosted: Updated:
Matchup of "former" champs
North Carolina is the most experienced Final Four team. The Tar Heels are making a 20th appearance in the Final Four. Last season's experience is one that Roy Williams team would like to forget.
Oregon has its own piece of basketball history. The 1939 team known as the "Tall Firs" was the very first ever NCAA national championship.
The two schools have little else in common when it comes to basketball history. The might have less in common when it comes to playing styles. Oregon wants to go small. The Tar Heels want to beat you up with the bigs.
“I haven’t found anything yet on Oregon,” says Williams, the Tar Heels coach since 2003. “What scares me is how everybody can score. You know with Brooks and Tyler Dorsey and Jordan Bell. They’re so athletic. I try to figure out who the dickens I have that can guard them.”
Big vs. Small
All-American and Pac 12 Player of the Year Dillon Brooks lead the Ducks in scoring this season, averaging 16 points a game. The Ducks seem to feed of his energy, and his teammates haven’t let him forget the “flop of the year” against Utah Brooks doesn't do it alone. Tyler Dorsey has earned the nickname “Mr. March," scoring 20 points per game in the NCAA Tournament. With senior Chris Boucher sidelined for the season with a knee injury, Jordan Bell, Payton Pritchard and Valley native Casey Benson have helped steady the ship after a loss to Arizona in the Pac 12 Tournament.
“Any Final Four would be special,” says Benson, who won three state titles at Corona del Sol in Tempe. “Playing in your home state, there’s nothing like that.”
The Tar Heels have an All-American of their own, junior Justin Jackson. Jackson might have shoulder more of the load on Saturday if Joel Berry's can’t recover from an ankle injury, suffered against Kentucky. The Tar Heels have a size advantage with Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, Tony Bradley & Luke Maye. Maye's buzzer beater to send Kentucky to the Final Four has made him a Carolina legend, even in the eyes of Duke fans.
Each team has its own famous fan. Kobe Bryant spoke to the Ducks when they landed in Phoenix.
Oregon guard Dylan Ennis told the Oregon Register Guard “He had a lot of great golden nuggets,” Ennis said. “He told us to put the emotions aside, you’re supposed to be here. Let the crowd, the families have the emotion. And just know that this is the time where everything you work for, it’s here now. Pretend you’re in practice, pretend you’re working out. Nothing’s changed.”
Roy Williams had Michael Jordan speak to the Tar Heels after last year’s loss to Villanova.
“I don’t know how coherent guys were,” says Justin Jackson. “He said let your failures be your motivations.”
Carolina 77 Oregon 63
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