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2017 Final Four: Breakdown, Schedule, Game Times & Analysis

The road to the national title game is clear. The 2017 Final Four starts on Saturday, April 1, with the Gonzaga Bulldogs competing against the South Carolina Gamecocks to determine which team heads to the 2017 NCAA Tournament championship in Phoenix. 

2017 Final Four: NCAA Tournament Analysis

  • What: Gonzaga Bulldogs vs South Carolina Gamecocks
  • When: April 01, 2017, 6:09 PM ET
  • Where: University of Phoenix Stadium
  • Spread: Gonzaga -6.5
  • Over/Under: 139
  • Watch: CBS

Gonzaga will head to the national championship because…

The Bulldogs are among the favorites to advance to the championship game along with the North Carolina Tar Heels. Gonzaga’s passage in this year’s March Madness was not easy; after a scare in the Sweet 16 against West Virginia, however, they bounced right back in the saddle and defeated the Xavier Musketeers in the Elite Eight.

It’s the Bulldogs’ first time in the Final Four and it faces another newcomer in this round of the competition, the South Carolina Gamecocks. Gonzaga’s ranks is chock full of talent with a nine-man rotation that gives them enough flexibility to weather out the storm.

This is arguably the deepest team in the Final Four. Zach Collins and Silas Melson are strong off the bench, while Johnathan Williams and Prezemek Karnowski can usually pick up the slack when Nigel Williams-Goss and Jordan Mathews struggle. Williams-Goss, Perkins, Jordan Matthews are shot-makers, while Williams is great in  perimeter shooting.

Gonzaga is also a defensive powerhouse that ranks No. 1 in defensive efficiency actcording to KenPom.com. Guard Nigel Williams-Goss has an uncanny ability to control the point of attack, wings Silas Melson and Josh Perkins are dynamic an tenacious, while forward Johnathan Williams provides length and mobility to the squad.

However, they face a South Carolina team that’s also formidable on defense and that can probably limit William-Goss’ ability to score points and push him into foul trouble. They also might not fare well against such a dynamic team as the Gamecocks, that are more aggressive and faster in their zone defense.

Gonzaga Bulldog Stats

Offense

  • Total Score: 83.24
  • Field Goal %: 50.88
  • Three Point %: 37.83
  • Free Throw %: 71.80
  • Total Rebounds: 40.46

Defense 

  • Total Score: 60.92
  • Field Goal %: 36.46
  • Three Point %: 29.32
  • Free Throw %: 65.89
  • Total Rebounds: 33.22

South Carolina will head to the national championship because…

If there’s something that defines this team is its defense. In fact, South Carolina’s defense is arguably the biggest reason why this team made it to the Final Four. KenPom.com ranks the Gamecocks second in adjusted defensive efficiency, with a zone play that’s aggressive, quick and wreaks havoc on opposing offenses.

This team is also not short on grit and determination. They held Baylor to just 50 points and 0.76 PPP. They also held Duke's Luke Kennard, Grayson Allen, Matt Jones and Frank Jackson to a combined 4-for-11 inside the arc and 8-for-23 from beyond the arc. Florida hit just 31.4 percent of its shots from the field in the second half of their Elite Eight game. South Carolina is among the few teams to reach the Final Four after recovering from halftime deficits in three games along the way.

Now, the Gamecocks’ Achilles’ Heel is their offense. They’re seriously outranked against every other team in this competition. The Gamecocks are ranked 105th in offense in college basketball. No team in the KenPom era has won with an offense that ranked worse in efficiency than 37th. Most national champions have been within the top-10. South Carolina would be by far at the bottom of the pile on offense for a 64-team competition if they were to win it all. And this seems like too much of a stretch by all accounts.

Though Sindarius Thornwell may be able to carry the offense from here on out, if opponents put enough pressure on him, it’ll be hard for the Gamecocks to get the offense going. If South Carolina goes back to its average offense, it will not win a national championship in this field of elite scoring units.

South Carolina Gamecocks Stats

Offense

  • Total Score: 73.17
  • Field Goal %: 42.14
  • Three Point %: 33.75
  • Free Throw %: 69.92
  • Total Rebounds: 36.33

Defense

  • Total Score: 64.92
  • Field Goal %: 39.81
  • Three Point %: 29.79
  • Free Throw %: 72.28
  • Total Rebounds: 35.08