Final Four 2017 Schedule: TV Info, Updated Bracket for NCAA Tournament

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2017

GREENVILLE, SC - MARCH 19:  Sindarius Thornwell #0 of the South Carolina Gamecocks reacts in the second half against the Duke Blue Devils during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena on March 19, 2017 in Greenville, South Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Seeds don't mean much in this year's Final Four

Few would say seventh-seeded South Carolina has played close to the number next to its name. The same could go for third-seeded Oregon when it's blowing past top seeds based around a potent offensive attack. 

Don't forget top seeds North Carolina and Gonzaga. The programs are worthy of the numbers, but both have struggled so far in the tournament. One off day against supposed "lesser" seeds and fans will see another injection of madness into March before the calendar turns to April.

Below, let's set the stage for the Big Dance's final act, where the nation's top four teams will cut the field to two.

    

Final Four Schedule and Updated Bracket

DateMatchupsTime (ET)TVSpread
April 1South Carolina (7) vs. Gonzaga (1)6:09 p.m.CBSGonzaga (-6.5)
April 1Oregon (3) vs. North Carolina (1)8:49 p.m.CBSNorth Carolina (-4.5)
NCAA.com. OddsShark.

Final Four Players to Watch

Sindarius Thornwell, South Carolina

Expect someone else besides the SEC Player of the Year?

The Gamecocks have Chris Silva playing enforcer under the basket and PJ Dozier contributes 13.8 points per game, but nothing else matters for the Gamecocks (43rd in ESPN's RPI rankings) if Sindarius Thornwell doesn't show up.

Thornwell averaged 21.6 points per game during the regular season, yet he has kicked it up a notch in the Big Dance. He's scored a minimum of 24 points in each of his team's four tournament wins while grabbing at least six boards in each contest.

From an SEC outlook, Thornwell's performance so far is historic. ESPN Stats & Info provided context:

What really makes Thornwell important, though, is his tenacious tone-setting defense that has the Gamecocks ranked second in adjusted defensive efficiency at KenPom.com.

In a defensive showdown with Gonzaga, Thornwell's ability to carry the team, both in scoring and by defensive example, will decide the outcome outright. 

      

Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga

Gonzaga (eighth RPI) takes a by-committee approach to scoring, hence four guys averaging double digits during the regular season.

This translated to the tournament thus far, with Nigel Williams-Goss scoring 20 or more in two games and Jordan Mathews consistently putting up solid numbers.

Against South Carolina, though, the most important man on the court will be Przemek Karnowski.

The 7'1", 300-pound center doesn't light up the scoreboard, but in a halfcourt defensive battle with South Carolina, his ability to stay on the court and protect the rim is huge.

Karnowski has scored 10 or more points just twice, but he's not a stats guy. There is a good reason he posted 29 minutes in a 61-58 escape of fourth-seeded West Virginia in the Sweet 16 after only averaging 22.9 minutes during the regular season.

Leading a defense sitting first in adjusted defensive efficiency at KenPom, Karnowski's ability to stay on the court is one of the game's deciding factors.

     

Joel Berry II, North Carolina

Luke Maye and his game-winning shots have been a fun story, but for North Carolina (fifth RPI), it's all about Joel Berry II.

Berry has had an up-and-down tournament thanks to a slight ankle issue, hence his scoring 13 total points over the Tar Heels' first two games.

His hitting full strength against fourth-seeded Butler in the Sweet 16 explains the Tar Heels sitting sixth in adjusted offensive efficiency at KenPom. Berry cut to the basket constantly while piling up 26 points in the 92-80 blowout, opening things up for others as he went.

Berry only posted 10 points in his team's next game yet looked just fine:

When Berry is penetrating and scoring or kicking the ball out once a defense collapses, the Tar Heels are nearly impossible to beat.

In a potential shootout with Oregon, the Tar Heels will need Berry at 100 percent to advance.

     

Tyler Dorsey, Oregon

Dillon Brooks has seemingly been the face of Oregon (ninth RPI) all season, yet it is Tyler Dorsey who has stepped up the most in the Big Dance.

Brooks averaged almost two more points per game than Dorsey during the regular season, yet Dorsey has dropped 24, 27, 20 and 27 points. He's been especially impressive from deep on 17-of-26 shooting.

He's closed out big games:

And otherwise made program history:

Dorsey's shooting and clutch gene can go a long way toward countering Berry's constant attacks and explains the Ducks sitting 16th in adjusted offensive efficiency at KenPom.

This makes the inverse also true. If Dorsey cools after a break before the Final Four while Berry rests his ankle, the Ducks will be in a world of trouble. Dorsey has assumed the mantle of primary producer in this dance, and if that changes, the Ducks could fall early.

      

Advanced metrics courtesy of ESPN.com. Odds via OddsShark.com.

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