Why Gonzaga vs. UNC is the perfect Final

BY MATT DE SARLE 

It’s the Final 4.  By now, each team has proven it belongs.  But there is one matchup that we, as college basketball fans, cannot help but root for.

UNC versus Gonzaga would be the perfect pairing of polar opposites.  But it would be the perfect alignment of player matchups that would give this fantastic 2017 NCAA Tournament the climax it deserves.

Gonzaga, the mid-major power nestled in the wildness of the West Coast.  Give coach Mark Few all the credit for building this program to it’s current stature, but the West Coast Conference is still a mid-major conference.

UNC, a true blue blood across the college basketball landscape, with any East Coast bias easily bolstered by basketball legends like Michael Jordan and vocal ACC alumnus like Jay Bilas.

On the court, you’d have a smattering of guards that can handle this moment.   For Gonzaga, it’s Nigel Williams-Goss, Josh Perkins and Jordan Matthews who will handle the load.  On UNC it’s Joel Berry and Nate Britt.  Like champion NCAA guards in the last two decades (think Khalid El-Amin, Nolan Smith, Peyton Siva, Sherron Collins, Mateen Cleaves), none of these guards may ever be an NBA All-Star.  But, within the next 48 hours, they can be champions.

At the center of the action are two giants who have been playing college ball, it seems, since George W. was in office.  Przemek Karnowki had his college basketball tenure extended by a nasty back injury.  Kennedy Meeks’s McDonald’s All-American appearance was beside current, experienced NBA mainstays like Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle. This would be a fun battle to watch down low with a combined weight (generously listed) at 564 pounds being tossed around.

And every memorable championship game needs the pinning of two X factors against one another.  Both teams have that under appreciated do-it-all 4 man in Jonathan Williams and Isaiah Hicks.  Each is listed at 6-9.  Each is capable of guarding a hot shooter or agile post threat.  Each could easily walk away from this game with a double-double and Final Four MVP recognition.

And then, there’s the thoroughbred.  No one is playing better across the nation than Justin Jackson right now.  He has aptly been compared to Richard Hamilton during CBS/Turner Sports telecasts of the Sweet 16.  Our fingers are crossed that this NCAA Title game can be as rewarding as the one between UCONN and Duke that featured Hamilton in 1998.

 

 

 

 

 

Best hair in college basketball 2017

10.  Isaiah Zierden, Creighton

We start with a classic barbershop part and neat comb.

9.  Ky Boyman, Boston College

Boston College may not be in the tournament, but that won’t stop this “red head” from cracking our top ten.

8.  London Perrantes, Virginia 

Are you old enough to remember Kid n’ Play?

7.  Xavier Cooks, Winthrop 

The Winthrop big man alternates between Bone Thugs and Bob Marley

6. D’Mitrik Trice, Wisconsin 

Beware opponents, it’s building towards a Taxi Driver look

5. Dylan Ennis, Oregon

Just a touch of Oregon’s neon yellow.

4.  Hanner Mosquer-Perea, ETSU 

He spent his layover year after the Indiana transfer to master his hairdoo.

3.  Justin Tillman, VCU

Sensational hair, posterized

2.  Jalen Moore, Utah State

Jalen returned for his senior season to make this list

1. Kyle Guy, Virginia 

The man bun wins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does Florida State pass the eye test?

Yes.  Florida State’s basketball team is really good.  The Seminoles are a perfect example of why the eye test is important.  There could be a moment when you are watching this Florida State team dominating a half during the elite 8 and ask yourself, “why didn’t I know about these guys?”  The Seminoles have three pros.  Jonathan Isaac and Dwyane Bacon are locks.  I would argue Xavier Rathan-Mayes will make an NBA roster.  And that trio epitomizes why this Florida State team is special.  Generally, like Virginia and Wisconsin, coach Leonard Hamilton’s Florida State teams are known for their defense, but an inevitable scoring drought would kill them in the tournament.  Not this team.  Rathan-Mayes stormed into the SEC in his freshman year, scoring at will.  Now, as a junior, his game has evolved into a traditional point guard, something that this talented Seminoles squad needs.  Senior center Michael Ojo (like Villanova champion Daniel Ochefu) is the typical under-appreciated utility center  who does his job.  If Bacon or Isaac play offense like the first round picks they’re projected to be, this is a very dangerous team.

Does Gonzaga pass the eye test?

Yes.

With Gonzaga, everything begins with big man Przemek Karnowski.  The 7-1 center is generously listed at 300 pounds.  As one commentator put it, he doesn’t protect the rim as much as he clogs the driving lane on defense.  Karnowski is surrounded by the most talented crop of transfers we can remember in recent years.  Jonathan Williams III is a power forward who does everything.  Nigel Williams-Goss gives coach Mark Few another point guard in addition to last year’s holdover Josh Perkins.  The bulldogs can score in an up-tempo game but also a grind-it-out ballgame.   The main critique that can be made is that Gonzaga really doesn’t have a traditional small forward in the rotation.  Jordan Matthews is another awesome transfer joining Gonzaga, but he is a traditional shooting guard.  Losing to BYU in late February may have been the best thing to happen to this bunch — it guarantees not going into the big dance undefeated.  As the Wichita State experience taught us in 2014, that undefeated mark may not be an asset for the tournament.

 

Brent Musburger’s new job in Vegas

An empty stage covered by a black curtain awaits a broadcasting legend at a Las Vegas mega casino.  After 77-year-old Brent Musburger calls his last game for ESPN Tuesday, January 31st, he will launch a new sports gambling network from the South Point Casino.  Staff at the hotel were tight lipped this week about what this new stage will become.  However, as Musburger called his final game of Kentucky versus Georgia, sources inside the South Point Casino started disclosing more details about the Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN).  During his Super Bowl Sunday launch, Musburger is expected to be joined by guest host and fellow broadcasting icon, Al Michaels.

Earlier this week, Musburger’s nephew Brian Musburger divulged new details about the network through a news release.  He indicated that more veteran broadcasters and producers would be allocated to the new venture, which is said to bring sports gambling out from the shadows.

The South Point Hotel and Casino is a 25-story hotel tower with a state-of-the-art sports book and convention center.  Its 60 acres sit roughly 5 miles from what’s considered the main Las Vegas Strip.