This is the 70th consecutive Final Four without Colorado. Us Buffs fans have experience watching the Final Four and National Championship as neutral viewers. In March Madness, you’re allowed to be neutral and still have rooting interests. Switzerland was neutral in World War II, but they were rooting for the Allied powers, hopefully.
If you’re unsure about who to root for in this year’s Final Four, this here is your handy guide.
Oregon vs. North Carolina
We also don’t understand conference pride or #BackthePac, and, truth be told, we’ve been just fine seeing Colorado’s conference rivals lose. Even more so than seeing USC, Arizona and UCLA lose, we would love to see Oregon have their hearts broken. It’s no secret that we don’t exactly like Oregon, and in our opinion, neither should you.
Head coach Dana Altman and Oregon basketball in general have a shady past that make it damn near impossible to want them to succeed. You can see the story of Chris Boucher and the smile of Tyler Dorsey and wish for them to personally succeed. But as they find joy, so too does Altman and company.
It’s also very easy to root against Oregon because of Dillon Brooks. As Mark Titus put it, “Dillon Brooks trips guys, flops, talks a ton of shit, hates that he’s not the best player on his own team, and is therefore the Grayson Allen of the West.”
If you decide to root against Oregon (and the Pac-12), you certainly have a fun team to root for in North Carolina. The Tar Heels are a deep squad loaded with McDonald’s All-Americans and NBA talent. Joel Berry II is arguably the best guard in the nation, Kennedy Meeks eats people, Tony Bradley is a joy to watch, and Justin Jackson is always on the brink of exploding for 25+ points. Also, if you have a thing for unheralded players becoming legends in March, Luke Maye is perfect for you.
Gonzaga vs. South Carolina
The Zags and Gamecocks are different types of underdogs and both are deserving of their Final Four appearance and of your rooting interests.
Gonzaga was a perpetual Cinderella who turned into a mid-major superpower, but they had a history of collapsing just when they were at the brink of greatness. Gonzaga finally got over that hump after Mark Few turned the Zags into the best all-around team in the nation. They play a loaded 8-man rotation that can thrash you on offense, like they did to Xavier, and beat you down on defense, like they did to West Virginia. Gonzaga also boasts two Pac-12 transfers in Nigel Williams-Goss (Washington) and Jordan Mathews (Cal) who are fun to root for if you have a schadenfreude attitude towards the Pac-12, which I most definitely do. Lastly, Gonzaga’s Przemek Karnowski is a 7’1, 300-lbs. bundle of fun and I can’t recall him missing a single (non-free throw) shot.
South Carolina, meanwhile, was never supposed to get past Duke in the Second Round, much less reach their first ever Elite Eight, much less the Final Four. The ‘Cocks are the best defensive team in college basketball and have a knack for suffocating an offense as a boa constrictor would Mowgli. On offense, South Carolina is carried by SEC Player of the Year Sindarious Thornwell, who has averaged 25.8 points per game in the tournament.
Because Gonzaga and South Carolina are both fantastic rooting options, this can be decided by your own stylistic preferences. And whoever wins this game should be your National Championship team.