The 2017 NCAA tournament has featured a little bit of everything, from shocking upsets to dominant performances by top teams, and the Final Four is a clear microcosm of that.
Top-seeded North Carolina and Gonzaga enter the Final Four as prohibitive favorites to meet in the National Championship Game, but No. 3 Oregon and No. 7 South Carolina are looking to play spoiler after already taking down some notable Goliaths.
With just three games left in March Madness, here is a look at the championship odds for each of the remaining Final Four teams, courtesy of OddsShark.
|2017 NCAA Tournament Champion Odds|
A school hasn't played in consecutive National Championship Games since Butler in 2010 and 2011, but North Carolina is set up well to end that drought.
The Tar Heels fell last year to Villanova on a buzzer beater. However, they got past Kentucky with one of their own in the Elite Eight courtesy of unlikely hero Luke Maye.
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UNC's biggest advantage entering the Final Four is its experience in big-game situations when compared to the other four teams.
As seen in the following graphic, playing in the Final Four is old hat for the Tar Heels:
While UNC's current players weren't part of most of the previous Final Four appearances, this marks head coach Roy Williams' ninth Final Four in comparison to none for the other three head coaches remaining.
North Carolina also has a ton of experience, as it has largely avoided the one-and-done plague that provides most top programs from having continuity.
Justin Jackson, Joel Berry II, Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks are the Tar Heels four leading scorers with at least 12 points per game apiece, and all of them were part of North Carolina's national runner-up team last year.
That is likely among the biggest reasons why UNC grades out so well in the KenPom.com offensive and defensive efficiency ratings, per ESPN's Jay Bilas:
Perhaps the one major question mark surrounding North Carolina as it enters its Final Four clash with Oregon is the health of Berry.
He was hobbled against Kentucky due to ankle sprains, and Williams said Tuesday that Berry wasn't yet ready to play, according to Jared Fialko of WRAL:
Beating the Ducks would be a far tougher task without Berry, but UNC has the depth to do so, especially if Maye keeps up his elevated level of play.
Maye is averaging just 5.8 points per game this season, but he has hit double digits in three of UNC's four NCAA tournament games thus far.
North Carolina's depth and experience will be enough to push it into the final for a clash with Gonzaga, provided the Bulldogs are able to end South Carolina's Cinderella run.
The Zags have lost just one game this season, but North Carolina won the regular-season title in the ACC, which is arguably college basketball's toughest conference.
Playing against such a high level of competition led to some losses along the way, but it will prove to be a difference-maker in UNC's favor, as Gonzaga was rarely tested in the West Coast Conference.