Gonzaga reaches Final Four for First Time, while Oregon reaches Final Four for First Time Since 1939

SONG SELECTION:

“Fountain of Good Fortune”, by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Released March 10, 2017 via Sub Pop Records

For the first time since 1995 when UCLA and Oklahoma State made the Final Four, there will be two schools west of the Mississippi River going to Arizona.

Gonzaga overpowers Xavier to reach first ever Final Four

It is really cool to see a new school finally reach the pinnacle of men’s college basketball, after so many years of trying so hard and coming so close.  From legendary players like Basketball Hall of Famer John Stockton, Adam Morrison, and many dozens of players from many talented squads of the past, this victory in the West Regional Final meant a lot to their school in so many ways.

Hitting 12 of 24 shots from three-point range is cool, but what is even nicer is having the right combination of size, speed, and overall intuition to knowing what plays need to be run and being in the right spot at exactly at the right time.

Enter Mark Few, as he is no longer answer to a trivia question.  After over 500 games and 18 steady years coaching Gonzaga in that rather cozy town of Spokane, Washington, the Bulldogs became the first West Coast Conference school to reach the Final Four since the San Francisco Dons of K.C. Jones did it way back in 1957.

“It’s not about me, or my monkeys, or my dogs, or my cats.  It’s about them.”

Gonzaga Head Coach Mark Few giving credit where credit was properly due, to his players that got him finally over the Elite Eight hump after two missed attempts in 1999 and 2015

The final score in San Jose was 83-59, and for the majority of the game–it wasn’t even close.  Leading 49-39 at the half, the ‘Zags outscored the Musketeers 34-20 in the final 20 minutes.

The WCC Player of the Year definitely stepped up his game big time on Saturday night, as Nigel Williams-Goss nailed four of seven shots from deep while finishing with a game high 23 points and eight rebounds, to go along with four assists.  Williams-Goss has scored at least 20 points in five of his last seven games.  Forward Johnathan Williams also came up huge with 19 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots.

Xavier ended up only hitting 2 of 16 from deep, and they were led by J.P. Macura who had 18 points to go along with 5 rebounds and two assists.  Trevon Bluiett did not have one of his best efforts, going only 3 of 14 from the field and finishing up with only 10 points.  As a team, Xavier shot an anemic 22 of 62 for 35.5 percent.  But if you want to analyze this game in historical terms, Xavier is almost in the same situation where Gonzaga was after the Bulldogs were blown out by UConn in the 1999 Elite Eight in Phoenix.  Xavier takes over Gonzaga’s spot as having the most Tournament wins without reaching a Final Four and that streak starts anew at 27 games.

One thing going for Gonzaga is having the nation’s longest streak of consecutive games in which they outshoot their opponents.  That streak has reached 45 straight, the most since 1997 (where they have averaged 22.3 points per game during that same period of time).

Gonzaga has also won 23 games by 20 points or more, six more than the next closest team in Wichita State.

Gonzaga will play the winner of South Carolina and Florida in Arizona next Saturday night.

Oregon continues hot streak, stuns Kansas

Led by Tyler Dorsey and Dillon Brooks, they completely shut down the once high powered Kansas offense in the Jayhawks home away from home in Kansas City.  Even worse, Dorsey (who had six of the team’s 11 made shots from deep) ended the first half with a cold blooded three at the buzzer to give Oregon a 44-33 halftime lead.

The Ducks then proceeded to score 11 of the next 15 points to put the game away and send Oregon to their first Final Four since winning the very first Final Four ever held in 1939 at the old Patten Gymnasium (now a chemistry lab) on the campus of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.  Quite a feat without the services of Chris Boucher and here they are, two games away from the title.

Kansas only got as close as six points in the second half.  Oregon shot 18 of 30 during the first half and 11 of 27 in the second for a percentage of 50.9, while the Midwest’s top seed and the nation’s overall number 2 seed finished ice cold.  Their final stat line read 21 of 60 for 35 percent, while KU only nailed 5 of 25 attempts from three-point land.  The result was a convincing and shocking 74-60 win, as Oregon’s defense was huge in shutting down Devonte’ Graham.  Graham only finished with three points, all coming from free throws.  Credit Jordan Bell for looming large in the fact that he had eight blocks, while Kansas only blocked one shot all night.

Frank Mason III led the Jayhawks with 21 points, but was a lethargic 2 of 9 shooting for only 4 points during the second half.  Forward Josh Jackson failed to score in the first half, but still finished with a double-double reaching 10 points to go along with 12 rebounds and five assists.

While many in Rock. Chalk. Jayhawk Nation will have more to worry about with some of the Kansas players facing transgressions on the wrong side of the law, I would not be surprised if Bill Self fields over half the team with new faces come November.

Oregon will take on the winner of the South Region, as the only true bluebloods left will duel for the final berth in Arizona between Kentucky and North Carolina.

See you all tomorrow night as we will know by 7 p.m. Eastern time who will be flying to Arizona as active participants, and who will be joining me and millions of other fans the world over as mere spectators.

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