March Madness Final Four: North Carolina defeats Oregon to advance to title game
The best of the best arrived in Phoenix look for a spot in Monday's national championship.
In Saturday's second game, top-seeded North Carolina beat 3-seed Oregon, thanks to two huge offensive rebounds off of missed free throws in the final six seconds. North Carolina squeezed by the Ducks, winning 77-76, powered by Kennedy Meeks' game-high 25 points and 14 rebounds.
North Carolina will face Gonzaga in the championship on Monday night.
Oregon hasn’t made the Final Four since winning the first NCAA men’s basketball title in 1939, while North Carolina’s 20 Final Four appearances are the most all-time. The No. 3-seed Ducks (33-5) reached the Sweet 16 in 2015 and the Elite Eight last year before taking the next step in the progression this season. They did so in emphatic style on Saturday, toppling No. 1-seed Kansas by 14 points. The No. 1-seeded Tar Heels (31-7) are eyeing a seventh national championship after nipping Kentucky 75-73 on Sunday in an instant classic on Luke Maye’s jump shot with 0.3 seconds remaining. North Carolina would like to win twice and bury the memory of a buzzer-beating loss to Villanova in last year’s national title game.
Players to watch
Jordan Bell is just fourth on the Ducks in scoring with 10.9 points per game, but he shoots a team-leading 63.4 percent from the field while also pacing his team with 8.6 rebounds per contest. The junior forward, who was named Most Outstanding Player of the Midwest Regional, has recorded at least 12 boards in five straight NCAA tournament games. Bell blocked a career-high-tying eight shots against the Jayhawks.
Justin Jackson, who leads the Tar Heels with 18.2 points per game, was named to the South Region’s All-Tournament Team. The junior forward also paces his team in minutes per game (31.5) and 3-pointers (100), where he’s shooting 38.3 percent.
Oregon’s top two scorers, Dillon Brooks (16.3 points per game) and Tyler Dorsey (14.5), were named to the Midwest Regional’s All-Tournament Team.
Maye was named the South Region’s Most Outstanding Player after averaging 16.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in North Carolina’s two victories.
The Ducks have won 12 of their last 13 games, with the only setback coming by three points to then-No. 7-ranked Arizona.
The Tar Heels have won 10 of their last 12 games, suffering a pair of 10-point losses to ranked conference foes: then-No. 23 Virginia and then-No. 14 Duke.
Oregon has set single-season program records this year in points (3,000), field goals (1,069), assists (607) and blocked shots (241).
Kennedy Meeks, averaging just 24.2 minutes per game, leads the Tar Heels with 9.3 rebounds per contest.
2017 March Madness Final Four Schedule
National Championship Game Monday, April 3
|Live stream link to National Championship game||Time (ET)||Network|
|Gonzaga vs. North Carolina||9 p.m.||CBS|