Coaches: Carolina Final Four advantage to fade after tipoff

Carolinas on the Final Four's Mind

They will now face the surprise 7-seed out of the East, South Carolina, who came out of a region that was presumed to belong to defending champion Villanova or preseason No. 1 Duke. Sports Interaction NCAA oddsmakers believe USC's Cinderella run will end.

If North Carolina is able to get into transition, they could run OR out of University of Phoenix Stadium.

SC and North Carolina both won regional finals Sunday, sending them to Phoenix along with Gonzaga and OR after their wins a day earlier. In all seriousness, kudos to you if you did as few saw this run coming.

Until Saturday, it had been so long since a men's college basketball team from the Pacific Northwest advanced to the Final Four that the last time it happened, the cordless telephone and AstroTurf hadn't been invented.

SC hasn't lucked into making the Final Four either.

Altman has turned out to be a much better coach than player. But this is still SC, and this is still a matter of football against basketball, and here's basketball winning out. They defeated the Florida Gators 77-70 Sunday evening in the Elite Eight in NY. There were 14 lead changes and 10 ties. The result was much the same as the others, with North Carolina now 3-1 against Kentucky as the Tar Heels avenged a 103-100 loss on December 17 in Las Vegas. That's the heaviest of marks, as UNC is merely a 4.5-point favorite over OR in the other Final Four matchup.

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"We need to approach it much like we approached every game of the season although the stakes are a little bit higher", said SC coach Dawn Staley.

South Carolina Gamecocks Doniyah Cliney, left, and Florida State guard Leticia Romero battle for the ball during the first half of a regional final game of the women's NCAA college basketball tournament, Monday, March 27, 2. The Gamecocks are efficient and rank in the top 20 of turnovers per game. "I thanked them for four wonderful years of Elite 8 basketball". Many people wouldn't have even expected them to get this far, but they've showed out and upped their scoring average, which seemed to have been their handicap.

The Ducks became a longshot to win the championship in the eyes of many when big man Chris Boucher tore his ACL in the Pac-12 Championship Game. The Bulldogs were the top seed in the West and beat South Dakota State, Northwestern and West Virginia in this tournament. They include the Gatorade players of the year from Texas (Alexis Morris) and Louisiana (Cara Ursin). The Wildcats had staged a big rally and might have pulled upset if not for that missed call. Tyasha Harris and Wilson each had 16 points.

It was the first game between the teams since the Raptors traded Terrence Ross to the Magic for Serge Ibaka in February. That terrific defense held the Musketeers to 35.5 percent shooting.

"Polish center Przemek Karnowski, 7'1" and 300 lbs., is the biggest of the bunch. The Cardinal won national titles in 1990 and 1992 and were runners-up in 2008 and 2010, losing to UConn in the latter year. Karnowski was limited to five games last season and had back surgery. "So whenever he pops, it's hard for them to find him". Otherwise, Karnowski was headed back to Europe to play professionally. Led by Nigel Williams-Goss who poured in 23 points, the Bulldogs cruised past the Musketeers 83-59. She's accomplished everything else in this sport, she's built FSU into one of the best programs in the nation. This likely isn't going to be a pretty game stylistically.

Gonzaga and SC will tip-off at 6:09 p.m. They beat Iona, Rhode Island and Arizona in this tournament as well. Give the points and go under the total. That's enough for me.

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