Nathan’s Final “Four”cast



Virginia’s Kyle Guy (5) shoots the last free throw to defeat Auburn 63-62 during the second half in the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Saturday, April 6, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Earning a spot in the Final Four is the dream of any college basketball player. With all the upsets that occur during the NCAA tournament, being one of the last four teams remaining is a very difficult accomplishment. With a trip to Houston on the line, each team needs four wins to get the chance to play in the semifinal game. Here are the teams I believe will represent their respective regions in this year’s Final Four.


South Region: Arizona Wildcats

Earning another bid in the NCAA Tournament, the Arizona Wildcats and poised for a deep run in this year’s campaign. The Wildcats pulled out an impressive win over UCLA in the Pac-12 Championship, and enters the tournament with the fourth-best offense in the nation. The Wildcats have been heating up as of late, and need to continue to play that well to make a push toward the Final Four. Arizona has not made it to the Elite 8 since the 2015 tournament, but that will most definitely change this year. Led by forward Azuolas Tubelis, Arizona’s offense scores almost 83 points per game, and are very difficult to contain. They also ranked ninth in the country in rebounding. Tubelis leads the team in that category as well, averaging over nine a game. The Wildcats are also a team that shoots the ball very efficiently. They’re fourth-best in the country in field goal percentage, shooting just shy of 50% from the floor. Having this much success offensively makes them a juggernaut and a team that will be super difficult to contend with. Allowing over 70 points per game, however, isn’t the stat the Wildcats want to continue during this tournament. The chances of them playing some top offensive teams, including Creighton and Alabama, are very high, so their defense will need to step up to make a push. Given the strength and play of their offense, I think the defense for Arizona will be able to play well enough so that their offense can win them games. In what has been a frustrating last couple of tournaments for the Wildcats, this year is the year that Arizona will play in the Final Four.


East Region: Duke Blue Devils

Starting the season slow, Duke has picked it up and begun playing extremely well over the past couple of weeks. Entering the ACC Tournament as the four seed, the Blue Devils won all three of their games in their ACC Championship run, including wins against Miami and Virginia. The two stars for the Blue Devils have been freshman Kyle Filipowski and junior Jeremy Roach. Between Roach’s leadership and Filipowski’s scoring and rebounding, it will be a very tough challenge to knock out this Duke squad. First-year head coach Jon Scheyer has done a great job with this team and will look to lead them to another Final Four appearance. Entering the tournament playing great basketball is crucial to making a deep run. Considering how well Duke played during the ACC Tournament, I don’t see how they can’t go far in March Madness. Their defense has been one of the best in the country as of late, too, and will need to continue to play that well to prevail against some opponents they may have to play. Their region consists of some very good offensive teams, including Purdue and Marquette. But with how well they have done defensively and on the glass, I believe Duke is the most complete team in the East Region, and will take their ACC Championship squad all the way to Houston for the Final Four.


Midwest Region: Texas Longhorns

Coming off an impressive Big 12 Championship, Texas is in the best position they could be in ahead of this year’s NCAA Tournament. They are on a roll, having won four in a row. Two of those wins came against Kansas, so the Longhorns have proven that they are ready for March Madness. They enter this tournament with a lot of energy and momentum, especially on the offensive side of the basketball. Marcus Carr has been lights out for this Longhorns squad, and they will need him to continue to shine if they want to go far in this bracket. Texas hasn’t made it past the second round since the 2008 tournament, but will most definitely get past that mark this time around. The Longhorns finished atop the Big 12 in total offense, and third in defense. They average ten more points per game than their opponents, but have the potential to increase that margin significantly in some of their tournament games. One concern that Texas supporters may have was their lack of consistency during the regular season. They’d win big games, and then lose some games they should not have lost. If they can ride that winning streak from the Big 12 tournament, I don’t see any teams causing Texas major problems in their bracket. Houston will be a tough game for Texas, but their momentum and offensive play are going to be too difficult to stop. Needing six wins in a row to win a championship, the Longhorns are ready for the tournament, and will get the first four wins, and punch their ticket to Houston for the Final Four. 


West Region: Gonzaga Bulldogs

Seeded third in the West Region, Gonzaga finds themselves in unfamiliar territory. The Bulldogs have been a one-seed in the past three tournaments, but haven’t been able to complete the quest for an NCAA Championship. In a year when the Zags have flown under the radar, this feels like just the right time for the Bulldogs to make a run to another Final Four. Returning for Gonzaga yet again is Drew Timme, who has been on the team for each of the past two tournaments. This experience from their top player is going to have a highly positive impact on a Gonzaga team that was top in the nation when it came to points per game. The Bulldogs scored over 87 points per game, and showed zero signs of slowing down, as they ran over every opponent they faced in the West Coast Conference Tournament. Defending the Zags is no easy task, considering they shot over 52% from the floor in the regular season, leading all division one teams. Earning a trip to the Final Four will include matchups against top-tier opponents, but having this much success on offense will put Gonzaga over the edge. Having to beat teams such as UCLA and Kansas to win the regional championship will require aggressiveness and physicality in the paint. In a year where the pressure is off Gonzaga, I like them to go on a major run and secure a spot in Houston for the Final Four. It may not even end there, as this could be the year for Mark Few and his team to win the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Championship.