Lanthorn Sports staff Final Four predictions

Lanthorn Sports

Beau Troutman

Final Four winners: South Carolina & North Carolina. Champion: South Carolina

I picked one of the four Final four teams correctly: Gonzaga. I was confident the Mark Few-led Bulldogs would finally, finally make it to the final stage of college basketball glory. I picked Gonzaga to make it to the championship and lose to UCLA, but Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk prevent that matchup from ever happening. But to coach Few and the Bulldogs, I’m sorry—Frank Martin and the South Carolina Gamecocks stole my heart. I’m taking the Gamecocks over the Bulldogs in the first Final Four game, 61-56. The Gamecocks’ defense has gotten them this far, and it’s going to get them another step further. On the other side of the bracket, I originally picked Oregon to lose early due to the loss of forward Chris Boucher, who was injured in the conference tournament. I think his absence will finally be their undoing here, losing to the uber-talented North Carolina Tarheels, 82-72. As for the champion? Dude, it’s not even a question. Give me Martin and the Gamecocks for two reasons: They’re a bona fide Cinderella and I hate UNC for making Kentucky’s Fox cry after their Elite 8 win (Type in ‘De’Aaron Fox interview’ on Google and then grab a box of tissues). Give me SoCal over NoCal, 75-69.

Josh Peick

Final Four winners: South Carolina & North Carolina. Champion: South Carolina

As is tradition, I have successfully managed to pick zero of the Final Four teams in the NCAA Tournament. I would probably have more luck picking based on team colors and mascots than actually trying to do research on the teams in the field. But either way, I can start anew and pick the final three games of the tournament correct. But probably not. I am officially aboard the Frank Martin train and jumping on the South Carolina bandwagon. The Gamecocks have been the most impressive team that I have seen all tournament, mainly because of their pesky defense. I like South Carolina to beat Gonzaga 68-61 and meet North Carolina in the championship. Oregon’s size gave Kansas trouble in the Elite Eight, but I think the Tarheels match up with Oregon better than the Jayhawks. North Carolina will beat Oregon 87-75 in a high-scoring, fast-paced game. That leaves one game left in which I think the Tarheels will be bested by their brothers from the south. The Gamecocks will ride their defense all the way up the ladder to cut down the nets April 1. Sindarius Thornwell will win MVP of the tournament, and we might even see a smile from head coach Frank Martin, maybe.

Jacob Arvidson

Final Four winners: Gonzaga & North Carolina. Champion: North Carolina

Gonzaga always gets the high seed, but the analysts never seem to think they’re the real deal. Well, they’re the real deal. They have strong defense, good shooters, they take care of the basketball and, although he may not look like a basketball player, 7-foot-tall Przemek Karnowski is an indomitable force in the paint. Sindarius Thornwell will put up a fight for the Gamecocks, but South Carolina’s magical run is over. In the other game, Oregon may seem to have an advantage with the Final Four being out west, but the Tarheels are too balanced of a team and too well coached to cough up an opportunity to avenge last year’s buzzer-beating loss. This one might be close for a half, but the talent of UNC will pull away in the end. The national championship game will not be as close as the score says. Gonzaga will go on a historic run in the final minutes to make it a game, but the Tarheels will win yet another national championship.

Robbie Triano

Final Four winners: Gonzaga and North Carolina. Champion: North Carolina

I picked zero of the four Final Four teams to make it this far in the tournament, so this is your only disclaimer if you try use my prediction to make betting decisions. But at least I was not alone, as only 657 out of 18,797,085 brackets on ESPN’s Tournament Challenge correctly picked this year’s Final Four. I mean, who could’ve predicted (besides those 657 brackets) that three of the four teams (Gonzaga, South Carolina, and Oregon) would make their first Final Four appearance in school history? But sadly for those teams, they’ll have to square up against five-time national champion North Carolina. Sorry underdogs, but after losing by a buzzer-beater last year in the national championship, it’s hard to go against Roy Williams and the Tar Heels in their quest for redemption. UNC claims their sixth title against Gonzaga, 70-65.

Brady McAtamney

Final Four winners: South Carolina & North Carolina. Champion: North Carolina

We are all familiar with the legendary tale of David vs Goliath, but I seem to have missed the episode where two David’s face each other while another David faces Goliath. That’s how this Final Four feels, at least. It’s blue chip vs blue blood here in 2017. South Carolina will win 76-62 over the favored Bulldogs of Gonzaga. The Tarheels will end Oregon’s magical run to the spotlight, 71-69 in the other matchup. In a battle for the Carolinas, the Gamecocks’ miraculous run of knocking off top level schools will come up just a few points short and the Tarheels will avenge the loss they took at the hands of Villanova last year, winning the 2017 championship 80-73.