Tennessee's Barnes: Gut feeling Gonzaga will win NCAA title

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee coach Rick Barnes has faced every team in the Final Four and has a prediction regarding a potential championship game matchup. "I bet you this right now," Barnes said. "If North Carolina and Gonzaga make it to the championship game, I'll bet you the bookies will say it's a pick'em game. If there's a point (spread), it's going to be half a point. They're that close.

Coaches: Carolina Final Four advantage to fade after tipoff

Coaches for Oregon, South Carolina and Gonzaga concede Roy Williams and his North Carolina players have an advantage when it comes to knowing how to deal with the spotlight during Final Four week. They also don't think it will matter once the games begin. "You can play in the national championship game nine years in a row. If you go the 10th time, you're nervous before that ball goes up in the air.

Xavier returns its core from unexpected trip to Elite Eight

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Xavier coach Chris Mack spent a few extra seconds congratulating Mark Few after his Gonzaga team had reached the Final Four for the first time in school history. Gonzaga's 83-59 win in the Elite Eight on Saturday marked yet another near miss for the Musketeers. They've reached the Elite Eight three times and lost all three times. That last step is a big one. "It's a doozy," Mack said.

AP-SC--South Carolina Sports Digest, SC

The sports editor is Pete Iacobelli. Please send your best stories of the day for the South Carolina report. If you have any questions about the report, please call the AP at 800-922-1565 or 803-799-5510. Pete Iacobelli can be reached via email at piacobelli at ap.org for messages -- not stories. Reruns of stories are available from http://apexchange.com or from the service desk at 877-836-9477.

TIPPING OFF: Final Four welcomes trio of 1st-time coaches

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Frank Martin never got caught up in wins and losses, the highs and the lows, as he worked to build South Carolina into a contender for conference championships. Gonzaga's Mark Few dismissed questions of whether his Bulldogs would be a failure as long as they failed to get to a Final Four after so many great regular seasons.

BC-AP Sports Digest

The supervisor is Jake Seiner, followed by Fred Lief at 9 a.m. The New York sports desk can be reached at 800-845-8450, ext. 1630. Sports Photos, ext. 1918; graphics, ext. 7636; agate, ext. 1635. AP stories and accompanying photos also can be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com For reruns, call the Service Desk (800 838-4616) or your local AP bureau. All times EDT. TOP STORIES BKC--NCAA-TIPPING OFF RALEIGH, N.C.

Carolina (North) your tour guide for this year's Final Four

PHOENIX (AP) -- Consider North Carolina the tour guide at this year's Final Four. The Tar Heels will be making their record 20th trip, and most of the players on this year's roster were on hand last season to find out all about the agony of coming oh-so close to winning it all. For the rest of the guests, it's all uncharted territory.

The Latest: East vs. West set in Final Four next weekend

The Latest on the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament (all times Eastern): 7:55 p.m. The Final Four is set. And in an unusual bit of geography, it'll be schools from neighboring states out west (Oregon, Gonzaga) against schools from neighboring states in the east (North Carolina, South Carolina). The national semifinals in Phoenix will feature No. 1 seeds in the Bulldogs and Tar Heels, a No.

Gonzaga's national title chance a breakthrough moment

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Gonzaga had great players go through Spokane, great teams that won year after year, laying the foundation for the program's big breakthrough this season. Now the bar will be raised. No more questions about when the Zags will reach college basketball's final weekend. Their Final Four jinx over, a national championship becomes the next goal.

Zags, Ducks give West Coast flair to Final Four in Phoenix

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Tyler Dorsey had just led Oregon to its first Final Four in nearly eight decades when he looked into a TV camera and passed along a very simple message to all those East Coast fans. The ones who are often asleep before the Ducks have even taken the floor. "Wake 'em up," Dorsey said with a grin. "Wake up!" Wide awake, sir.

Gonzaga beats Xavier 83-59 to reach first Final Four

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- The criticism dogged Gonzaga wherever it went, no matter how much it won. The Zags run up their record by beating up on teams in a weak conference, then always seemed to come up short as the calendar went deep into March. Few outside of Spokane believed the program Mark Few helped build from scratch belonged in the national powerhouse conversation.

Gonzaga and Xavier ready for Final Four breakthrough

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Gonzaga coach Mark Few did not like the question but answered it anyway. His Zags had just held off West Virginia to reach the Elite Eight and he was asked if he felt like the monkey was off his back. Few gave a long answer about no one believing there was a monkey there in the first place.

BC-AP Sports Digest

The supervisor is Fred Lief, followed by Vin Cherwoo at 5 p.m. and Jake Seiner at 1 a.m. The New York sports desk can be reached at 800-845-8450, ext. 1630. Sports Photos, ext. 1918; graphics, ext. 7636; agate, ext. 1635. AP stories and accompanying photos also can be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com . For reruns, call the Service Desk (800 838-4616) or your local AP bureau. All times EDT. TOP STORIES BKC--NCAA-UCLA-KENTUCKY MEMPHIS, Tenn.

TIPPING OFF: Point guard battle part of Kentucky-UCLA allure

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- UCLA's Lonzo Ball and Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox have spent the season putting up big numbers and highlight-reel plays to power two blueblood programs. Come Friday night, one of those talented freshman point guards will move their teams within a win of the Final Four, too -- at the expense of the other.

Top-seeded Gonzaga survives for 61-58 win over West Virginia

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Jevon Carter fired up two potential tying 3-pointers only to see them go off-target and Gonzaga didn't allow West Virginia to get off a third. A defensive stop was a fitting way for this offensively challenged Sweet 16 matchup to end. Jordan Mathews hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with under a minute to play and top-seeded Gonzaga survived a rough shooting night all around to beat No.

The Latest: Arizona's loss means three 2-seeds are out

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The Latest on the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament (all times Eastern): 1:05 a.m. Xavier's upset of Arizona wrapped up Thursday's four-game slate, sending the Musketeers into the Elite Eight as a surprise team alongside high seeds Gonzaga, Kansas and Oregon. That made Arizona the third No. 2 seed to lose after Duke and Louisville the first weekend.

Wisconsin returns to Sweet 16 to face No. 4 seed Florida

NEW YORK (AP) -- No. 8 seed Wisconsin (27-9) vs. No. 4 seed Florida (26-8) Sweet 16, East region; New York; about 10 p.m. EDT (15 minutes after first game). BOTTOM LINE: The Badgers are back in the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight season after upsetting defending champion Villanova in the second round.

Tipping Off: Michigan talked Super Bowl on way to Sweet 16

When Michigan was slumping earlier in the season, the coach started thinking Super Bowl, not Final Four. John Beilein conjured up the highlight-reel catch that Patriots receiver Julian Edelman made during New England's game-tying drive in the Super Bowl, and said the Wolverines should keep that sort of play -- an outlier, as he called it -- in mind.

Gonzaga, Arizona try to end West Coast Final Four drought

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Getting to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament is nothing new for Gonzaga and Arizona. The task this weekend for the Bulldogs and Wildcats will be trying to make it out of the West Region and take that next step to the Final Four. The process starts Thursday when top-seeded Gonzaga (34-1) faces No. 4 seed West Virginia (28-8) and second-seeded Arizona (32-4) faces No. 11 seed Xavier (23-13).