Both the Ducks and Tar Heels have faced challenging roads to the Final Four, as OR beat Kansas, Michigan, Rhode Island and Iona in the Midwest Region, while UNC topped Kentucky, Butler, Arkansas and Texas Southern in the South Region.
When Oregon announced forward Chris Boucher was out for the season with a torn ACL just before the Ducks faced Arizona in the Pac-12 Tournament final, it appeared only a matter of time before the injury cost them.
On a night when UO star guard Dillon Brooks, the Pac-12 player of the year, never got in rhythm offensively, and Tyler Dorsey, the team's hot hand of the tournament, took 23 minutes to score his first field goal, it was Ennis who kept OR afloat throughout its 77-76 national semifinal loss to North Carolina. North Carolina lost to Villanova in the title game last season. But I do not see OR coming out of this game alive and look to see North Carolina in their second consecutive National Championship game. Gonzaga is also 1-3-1 ATS in their last five non-conference games, and 1-4-1 ATS in their last six NCAA Tournament games. "I think I'm a great product from what Coach Williams has started off".
North Carolina withstood a long stretch of poor shooting in the first half in which it trailed by as many as eight points and a second-half push by Tyler Dorsey and Dylan Ennis to beat OR 77-76 in the second of two national semifinal games Saturday night.
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North Carolina's Joel Berry II answers questions after a practice session for their NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball semifinal game Thursday, March 30, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.
"I got down on myself missing the two free throws", Meeks said.
With what else? A rebound.
"That's my job is to go in and rim protect", said Collins, who had 14 points and 13 rebounds. He then knocked down a 3-pointer from the right wing to pull UNC to within one, grabbed a defensive rebound on the other end and once again sliced through the Ducks' defense to find Meeks for a layup and a 37-36 lead.
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"I kind of realized that during the Butler game when coach got on me for not boxing out, and I sat out for a couple of minutes", he said. And I think the whole unfinished business or revenge, I don't know how you can have revenge on a team that wasn't the person that took it from you. Tyler Dorsey has been Oregon's best player in this tournament, and while he did finish with 21 points, he shot just 3-for-11 from the floor and struggled with the length of Jackson all night long. North Carolina shot 6-29 in the first half, including 2-9 on their three-point attempts. They average 13 more rebounds a game than their opponents, a margin unseen in Division I since Michigan State made the Final Four in 2001.
"We missed a bunch of free throws", Williams said.
OR did cut its deficit to 77-74 with 42 seconds left after Tyler Dorsey's three-pointer hit the front or the rim, rolled toward the back of the rim before reversing course and dropping through the net. "And at the end of the day it's just playing as hard as we possibly can when we get out there".
"Their bigs are huge", South Carolina's Sindarius Thornwell said. The Oregon Ducks can't be considered a Cinderella team because they were a number three seed. So to answer your question, no, I never thought being one-and-done.
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"We're relieved. We feel very lucky".