The 2017 National Championship game tips off in just about six hours. The game boast two #1 seeds, the blue blood (North Carolina) and the perennial underdog (Gonzaga). For the past 17 years, Gonzaga has looked to crash the NCAA Tournament party. Tonight, they will have the chance to trade Cinderella’s slipper for the championship crown. Through, Mark Few’s Bulldogs look like the underdog yet again, they are not! The Zags can match Carolina’s size, can score inside and out, and can rebound at a similar pace as the Tar Heels. Let’s be honest, the Tar Heel defense wasn’t as solid as it had been throughout the season Saturday night. If the Ducks had made a few more buckets down the stretch we would be talking about a different National Title Game this evening.
While, Gonzaga does not have the experience that the Roy Williams led Tar Heels do, Gonzaga should be relaxed and ready to play. North Carolina will have the pressure to finish their business after suffering a heartbreak loss, to Villanova, last March. If Gonzaga didn’t match up well with the Tar Heels we would give our nod to Chapel Hill, but Gonzaga has the match up they want and are poised to be on the podium as, ” One Shining Moment is planning tonight.
Well, since we o for 4 in our Final Four picks, we aren’t sure if you should be listening to our breakdown of this weekend’s games. Nevertheless, we will give it a shot! Looking at the matchups we are going to find out quickly if experience matters. Three of the four coaches, Roy Williams being the only exception, are making their first appearance in the Final Four, Coach Williams will be making trip number five overall, and his 3rd with North Carolina. Without a doubt, we will learn rather being there before really makes a difference. The thing that matters most, however, are the matchups. Let”s take a deeper look!
Gonzaga V South Carolina
There is absolutely, no question, that South Carolina has an exceptional defensive squad. The Gamecocks won all throughout this season because of an in your face defense and solid rebounding. It is certainly how they took down Duke in round two, and then came back against Florida in the second half to punch their ticket to Phoenix. The Gamecock offense has come around, led by Cendarius Thornwell. Unfortunately, South Carolina will be coming up against a Gonzaga team that has multiple offensive weapons, size, and the same defensive mindedness as their opponents. With Neigl Williams-Goss, and Johnathan Williams, as well as a solid supporting cast, Gonzaga should get by the Gamecocks, albeit in a nail biter.
Our Pick Gonzaga
North Carolina V Oregon
While the Ducks run has been quite a story, particularly with their starting center out for the season, there is no substitute for experience. The Tar Heel offense has gotten plenty of good looks throughout their journey, granted, they haven’t made as many as they would like, we believe Carolina will score the ball and exploit the Ducks lack of size. We expect the UNC to advance to a second straight title game. Add to that the desire to exact redemption after a heart breaking defeat in last year’s title game, and you have a recipe to advance to Monday night’s championship
Grayson Allen has been far more known foe his antics off the court than his play on it this season. Allen has had several incidents of,”dirty play throughout the 2017 season. Allen was indefinitely suspended by Coach K earlier this season, after tripping an opponent during a non-conference game. After the suspendible offense, Allen went off on coaches and teammates who attempted to calm after the tripping incident occurred. Sadly, this is not the first season Allen has had aggression issues. Last season Allen was given a flagrant foul for separate tripping incidents during the 2015-2016. While Grayson Allen’s actions are troubling enough, he is just a symptom of a larger issue in sports today- entitlement.
Sports is the ultimate microcosm of society, there are haves and have nots. Athletes who posses superior talent are allowed to get away with behavior that their less talented peers would face consequences for. This type of favoritism truly begins at the youth level, where coaches and parents alike seem more concerned with winning than teaching life lessons. Yes, winning is very important! after all, why do we play if not to win? There is nothing wrong with having a competitive fire. In fact, competition should be encouraged! However, it is also a coach’s job to impart life lessons and correct detrimental behavior, no matter how talented the player. Somewhere around 1 percent of all athletes will compete at the highest level of sports. Thus, it is vital that coaches do not treat gifted athletes different from their teammates. We have witnessed multiple senerios in which athletes have verbally and or physically assaulted coaches and teammates, yet, they were never punished for such behavior. It is highly likely that, at some point, such inappropriate will not be tolerated in the work place or otherwise. When someone has never encountered consequences for bad behavior rather at home or on the playing field, they will have difficulty dealing with the consequences of their actions, when the time comes to do so.
Playing sports is a privilege, not a right! the only way to change behavior is to punish behavior that should to be corrected, thus, some time on the bench is not necessarily a bad thing. True, sports at the highest levels are businesses, and coaches are, all to often, judged by their performance on the playing field. However, it is also important to understand that there is life after sports. Star athlete or not, actions have consequences. It is time that coaches, parents, and other influencers focus not just on the athlete, but the whole person as well.
The Louisville Cardinals Men’s Basketball team, and the university at large, have more on their minds than basketball as the season nears. Nearly three weeks ago, Louisville received a notice of allegations from the NCAA Infractions Committee ,charging the Cardinal coaching staff with various violations. The most glaring charge holds Head Coach, Rick Pitino, failed to monitor the program. However, the committee did not allege a lack of institutional control, which could have led to serious consequences for the basketball program. At this point, it is unknown rather the basketball programs will face farther violations after imposing a post season ban last year.
The NCAA did impose penalties on former Director of Basketball Operations, Andre McGee, with a Level I violation and a five-year show-cause penalty. The school has not been told of any subsequent infractions and will not face others actions. Pitino however, could face future discipline for failure to monitor his employees. Athletics Director, Tom Jurich has pledged support for Pitino saying, “We will appeal any decision made against Coach Pitino.
The allegations against Pitino stem from a book written by former escort, Katina Powell.In the memoir, Powell alleged that McGee arranged for prostitutes and strippers to be at parties where recruits and their families were present. Powell also published records showing she received payments from McGee over a period of several years.
Pitino is no stranger to controversies of this nature. The Louisville head coach was involved in an extortion case several years ago stemming from an affair with Louisville resident Karen Sypher. For her Involvement, Sypher was sentenced to seven years in prison for lying to the FBI and extortion. While Pitino was not charged in the incident the issue is a pattern of behavior. There is no questioning Pitino’s coaching ability, the man has two national titles and took three different schools to the Final Four. However, at what point is the pattern of behavior enough? If Pitino is assessed other penalties it may be time for the Cardinal to look for a new head bird.