First 2 Final Four spots on the line Saturday

Big Tournament

The first two spots in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four will be decided on Saturday night.

In the West Region, Gonzaga and the best offense in Division I will face Texas Tech and the nation’s best defense. The South Region will have a similar vibe with high-scoring guard Carsen Edwards (interview above) and Purdue playing Virginia and its stingy defense.

Gonzaga, the top seed in the West, is the highest-scoring, best-shooting and most lopsided-winning team in the nation. The Zags had double-digit wins over their first three opponents to reach the Elite Eight for the fourth time. But they will have their hands full in Anaheim, California, against third-seeded Texas Tech, which turned its Sweet 16 game against Michigan into a stomping.

Top-seeded Virginia has made its calling card defense under coach Tony Bennett and the Cavaliers have stifled their way into the Elite Eight. Virginia has yet to allow more 54 points in the NCAA Tournament. To reach the Final Four for the first time since 1980, Purdue will have to find some way to solve that stingy defense.

If Virginia is to break its 35-year Final Four drought, it will have to at least slow the Boilermakers’ Carsen Edwards. The junior guard averages 23.8 points per game despite constant attention from opposing defense and can be nearly unstoppable when he gets hot. Edwards had it going against Tennessee in the Sweet 16, scoring 29 points and hit two free throws to send the game to overtime in the 99-94 victory.

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