After Final Four breakthrough, Gonzaga's journey not over yet

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Making it to the school's first ever Final Four, something some experts felt could've happened past year.

While their coach of 18 years insisted there was never a monkey on his back, hammering it into his players that a Final Four does not define one's season, the reality is that to most college basketball fans, it does.

OR lost to Oklahoma in a regional final previous year.

Former Kansas State and Creighton coach and current OR head man had never been to the Final Four in 13 NCAA Tournament appearances.

After Oregon's victory in Kansas City, Ducks guard Tyler Dorsey pointedly told reporters that too many people have been "sleeping on West Coast" basketball. "It's not validation now (that we've) made a Final Four".

Hachimura, a Toyama Prefecture native, is unlikely to play much at the Final Four, which will be played between April 1-3 at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

OR is meanwhile seeking its first Final Four appearance since its 1939 national championship. Oh just wait, there's plenty, plenty more.

The only No. 2 seed to survive and advance, the Wildcats (32-5) won their 14th straight game.

Two nights later, in an 83-59 Elite Eight win over Xavier, it didn't need to be the nation's best defense.

The victor will advances to its first Final 4 appearance.

All of us in the Pacific Time Zone should be happy for Few. The Ducks have lost their last three, including to Kansas in 2002. Few has had the Zags close so many times before, with five previous trips to the Sweet Sixteen and one to the Elite Eight as recently two years ago.

Mason has scored over 20 points in all three of the tournament games, leading Kansas in scoring for the tourney thus far.

In fact, as the final seconds ticked off the blowout, a smiling Few walked down the sideline line and, according to center Zach Collins, just kept repeating: "We might as well win it all". Still, Few has routinely refused to be consumed by the pursuit. "I just thanked him, said God bless you for believing in us, and God bless (Johnathan Williams) and Przem (Karnowski) and Jordan (Mathews)", Few said later, describing the moment. Then, everyone took a step back and realized that we still had to win nine games after that BYU contest, and six of those would be the hardest games of the season courtesy of the NCAA Tournament. This Xavier team is tough, gritty and has shown that they want to be in this tournament. "We're not really backing down from anyone". "And if you have that mentality, you can beat a lot of teams".

Joel Berry II scored 26 points and Justin Jackson added 24 as top-seeded North Carolina moved to the Elite Eight with a 92-80 victory over Butler in the NCAA South Region on Friday night.

A No. 1 seed winning its region and marching on to the final weekend of the tournament typically wouldn't be worthy cause for extreme surprise and reaction.

Half of the national semifinals are set, and we'll decide the other two teams today.

Gonzaga faces the victor between SC and Florida in the Final Four next Saturday.

TRICKY SHOTS: The first half of the Xavier-Gonzaga game Saturday ended with a odd sequence that started with Gonzaga accidentally knocking the ball into its own basket while fighting for a rebound.