NCAA Tournament 2017: Odds and Predictions for Final Four Bracket

Ryan McCrystal@@ryan_mccrystalFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2017

Roy Williams has UNC on the verge of another national title.
Roy Williams has UNC on the verge of another national title.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The 2017 NCAA tournament has been filled with upsets, and most brackets have already been busted. As a result, the Final Four brings plenty of new faces into the spotlight on college basketball's biggest stage.

The Gonzaga Bulldogs and South Carolina Gamecocks are each making their first trips to the Final Four, ending long droughts that have plagued their programs over the years.

And while the Oregon Ducks have been here before, they might as well be new to the scene. They last advanced this far way back in 1939, when there were just eight teams in the tournament. 

Not only are these programs new to the Final Four, but all three are led by coaches making their deepest tournament run. It's the first time three coaches will be making their Final Four debut in the same year since 2006. 

While the other three coaches are making their first Final Four appearance, North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams is seeking his third national title. 

With a few days to go before Saturday's showdowns, here's a look at the bracket and predictions for each game. 

NCAA Final Four Schedule and Odds
DateMatchupsTime (ET)SpreadPrediction
April 1South Carolina (7) vs. Gonzaga (1)6:09 p.m.Gonzaga (-6.5)Gonzaga
April 1Oregon (3) vs. North Carolina (1)8:49 p.m.North Carolina (-5)North Carolina
Spreads from OddsShark

South Carolina vs. Gonzaga

Mark Few is finally in the Final Four in his 18th year at Gonzaga
Mark Few is finally in the Final Four in his 18th year at GonzagaSean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Gamecocks have become the Cinderella story of this year's tournament, primarily due to their scrappy defense.

Entering the Final Four, South Carolina ranks second in the nation with 620 turnovers forced this season, including 65 through the first four games of the tournament. Both Duke and Marquette matched season highs for turnovers in their tournament losses to the Gamecocks. 

Gonzaga will be a tough test for South Carolina, however, as Mark Few's Bulldogs are known for their smart, efficient play on the offensive side of the ball. Gonzaga has had 17 games this season with 10 or fewer turnovers committed, including their Elite Eight win over Xavier.

The Bulldogs rank 38th in the nation with a turnover percentage of just 14.1 percent. South Carolina has played four schools that rank higher than Gonzaga in that category—Michigan, Kentucky, Clemson and Memphis—and the Gamecocks went just 1-3 in those games. 

It's been an exciting run for South Carolina, but Gonzaga is likely too disciplined and too efficient to fall victim to the Gamecocks' style of play. 

Prediction: Gonzaga 71, South Carolina 62

Oregon vs. North Carolina

Justin Jackson leads UNC with 18.2 points per game
Justin Jackson leads UNC with 18.2 points per gameKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Oregon was supposed to fall apart after losing starting forward Chris Boucher to a season-ending knee injury during the conference tournament. But the rest of the Ducks, especially Tyler Dorsey, have picked up the slack and carried the team to the Final Four. 

In the five games since Boucher's injury, Dorsey is averaging 24.2 points per game—a substantial leap from his 13.0-point average prior to his teammate going down. 

While Oregon has proved it has the talent to overcome Boucher's injury, one issue it can't hide is its lack of depth. Despite jumping out to an early lead against the Kansas Jayhawks in the Elite Eight, the Ducks' limited depth showed in the second half as their players were noticeably worn down and playing at a slower pace. 

This could be a weakness North Carolina is able to exploit in the Final Four. 

The Tar Heels are one of the nation's fastest-paced and most efficient offenses, averaging 116.8 points per 100 possessions, which ranks as the seventh-best offensive efficiency rating in the country. 

If Carolina is able to play fast and wear down Oregon early in the game, the Tar Heels should be able to pull away from the Ducks in the second half and cruise into the championship game. 

Prediction: North Carolina 82, Oregon 70

      

All statistics from Sports-Reference unless otherwise noted. 

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