While No. 1 seeds Gonzaga and North Carolina have advanced to the Final Four as expected, it’s a safe bet that oddsmakers were not advising Oregon and South Carolina fans to book flights for Saturday’s semifinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., when the tournament started 16 days ago.
No. 3 Oregon and No. 7 South Carolina shocked everyone but their fans in reaching the Final Four, and that’s the kind of buzz that adds excitement to The Southsider Voice’s annual Basketball Blitz, which pairs advertisers with teams in the tourney. The winning business will receive a quarter-page color ad valued at $390; the second-, third- and fourth-place finishers each receive an eighth-page ad worth $210.
South Carolina (26-10 and matched with Mike Heimel Auction Service) will meet Gonzaga (36-1, Realty World, Tricia Benefield) at 6:09 p.m. Saturday on CBS. The second games pits the Tar Heels (31-7, Beck Service Center) against Oregon (33-5, Primo Banquet & Conference Hall). The winners meet at 9 p.m. Sunday.
Heimel Auction Service was also paired with No. 1 seed Villanova, but the Wildcats were knocked off by Wisconsin (Archer’s Meats & Catering), which lost to Florida (IU Credit Union) in an opening regional game.
The Gamecocks, like the Zags, are in the Final Four the first time, and the Ducks haven’t been in nearly 80 years. This is the Tar Heels’ 20th appearance, winning it all five times, most recently in 2009. They are five-time runners-up.
South Carolina earned a berth in the Final Four by winning defeating No. 4 Florida 77-70 Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The Gamecocks’ pressure defense could pose a problem for Gonzaga as it forces 17.4 turnovers a game – fifth nationally – and is second in 3-point field goal defense – 29.2 percent. The Zags are led by their athletic big man, Przemek Karnowski, and their do-everything facilitator, Nigel Williams Goss.
Oregon punched its ticket to Glendale when defeating No. 1 seed Kansas ( IU Credit Union) 74-60 Saturday night.
The Tar Heels defeated No. 2 seed Kentucky (IU Credit Union) 75-73 in a barnburner Sunday evening.
The Ducks have a talented, quick team, but that might not be enough to stop a rock-solid North Carolina team from advancing to its 11th national championship game.