The matchups for the 2017 NCAA men’s basketball tournament Final Four are official. On April 1, the South Carolina Gamecocks will face the Gonzaga Bulldogs, while the Oregon Ducks are pitted against the North Carolina Tar Heels. Beyond the collegiate stakes, the semifinal games also are crucial for athletic brands, which have been narrowed down to a field of just two.
Unsurprisingly, Nike leads the way with Final Four endorsements. Gonzaga and Oregon are both clad from head-to-toe in the Swoosh, while North Carolina wears Jordan Brand, which is owned and operated by Nike Inc.
In their debut Final Four appearance, the No. 1 seed Bulldogs are looking to capture their first NCAA championship. The Ducks will attempt to make history with their first championship win since 1939 (the same year as their last trip to the Final Four), while the Tar Heels are looking to continue their streak of dominance with a sixth championship after losing to Villanova in the finals last year.
The outlier in the Final Four is Under Armour, which represents the Gamecocks. The South Carolina squad is in the midst of a Cinderella run that has fans — and undoubtedly Under Armour CEO and chairman Kevin Plank, too — on the edge of their seats.
Seeded at No. 7, the Gamecocks have never won an NCAA championship. Before this year, their tournament appearance was in 2004, and the last time they reached the Sweet 16 was in 1973.
As reported by Baltimore Business Journal, Under Armour entered the tournament with a company-record 12 teams, among them Kent State, Maryland, Mount St. Mary’s, New Mexico State, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Seton Hall, South Dakota State, St. Mary’s and Wisconsin.
Nike started the field with 40 sponsored teams, while Adidas had 15.
The Final Four tips off April 1 at 6:09 p.m. ET. The winning teams will then meet for the championship on April 3.