North Carolina vs. Oregon, 7:49 p.m.
No. 1 seed North Carolina (31-7) is in its 20th Final Four, the most of any program in NCAA history. But the Tar Heels haven’t won the national title since 2009. Last season, they lost on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Villanova’s Kris Jenkins. They’re only here because Luke Maye nailed a jumper with 0.3 seconds left that defeated Kentucky in the Elite Eight. Third-seeded Oregon (33-5) is making its first Final Four appearance since 1939, when it won the first-ever NCAA championship. The Ducks set school records this season in points (3,000), field goals (1,069) and assists (607). They ranked second in the nation in blocked shots per game (6.3), right behind Minnesota (6.8).
PLAYERS TO WATCH
North Carolina: Sophomore Maye was the MVP of the South Regional after setting career highs in points twice, averaging 16.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and shooting 12-for-19 from the field. The 6-8 Maye is the first non-starter to win the award in school history. He plays behind All-America and ACC player of the year Justin Jackson, who is averaging a team-best 19.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and shooting 40.7 percent (11-for-27) from three-point range in the tournament.
Oregon: Why haven’t the Ducks missed injured center Chris Boucher? Easy answer. It’s the play of 6-9 junior Jordan Bell, who blocked eight shots in the Elite Eight victory over Kansas. Including last season, Bell has five straight NCAA tournament games with 12-plus rebounds, a feat last accomplished by Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon in 1985. Just call Tyler Dorsey Mr. March, says Oregon, because he has scored at least 20 points in seven straight games, including 27 points against Kansas.
KEYS TO VICTORY
Tar Heels win if: They can dominate the offensive glass. They are 16-0 this season when scoring 20 or more second-chance points. North Carolina leads the nation in offensive rebounds per game (15.7).
Ducks win if: They can get a double-double from Bell. Oregon is 8-1 this season and 3-0 in the NCAA tournament when he reaches double figures in points and rebounds in a game.
PREDICTION: North Carolina 80, Oregon 69