North Carolina (32-7) vs Gonzaga (37-1)
When: Monday, April 3rd 2017
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
Time: 9:20 ET | TV: CBS
East meets West in the 2017 NCAA Championship Game as the Gonzaga Bulldogs out of the West Coast Conference, takes on the North Carolina Tar Heels on Monday night in Glendale, Arizona. Gonzaga will be making their first appearance in the title game after surviving their first ever Final Four contest against South Carolina on Saturday. The Bulldogs survived a 16-0 Gamecocks run in the second half to avoid the upset as 7-point favorites. Junior point guard Nigel Williams-Goss led the way for Gonzaga with 23 points in the 77-73 victory over South Carolina. Backup freshman center Zach Collins showed why he will be a future NBA Lottery pick by contributing 14 points, 13 rebounds and a career-best six blocked shots on Saturday. The trio of Collins (averages of 10 points, 5.9 rebounds), senior center Przemek Karnowski (12.3 points, 5.8 rebounds) and junior power forward Johnathan Williams (10.2 points, team-best 6.5 boards) should be able to matchup with North Carolina’s solid frontcourt. Williams-Goss (team-best 16.9 points), senior shooting guard Jordan Mathews (10.8 points, team-leading 83 made 3-pointers) and sophomore guard Josh Perkins (eight points per game) combined for 130 of the Bulldogs’ 263 steals this season. The Bulldogs rank second nationally in field-goal percentage (50.8) behind UCLA (52.2).
While the Zags are in uncharted territory, North Carolina will be looking for their sixth national title after earning their 20th Final Four appearance. North Carolina suffered a 77-74 loss last season when Villanova’s Kris Jenkins nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer and the players were constantly reminded of the fact during their NCAA Tournament run. Senior center Kennedy Meeks matched his career high of 25 points and collected 14 rebounds in Saturday’s 77-76 victory over a game Oregon team. The Tar Heels missed four straight free throws in the final seconds of that game, but grabbed two offensive rebounds to seal the win. The Tar Heels lead the nation in offensive rebounds (15.8) per game and have the best rebounding margin (12.7) in the country. Meeks is tough to handle under the basket with a 13.3 rebounding average over the past four games and is averaging 12.7 points and a team-leading 9.4 rebounds for the season. Junior forward Justin Jackson leads the Tar Heels in scoring (18.3) and 3-pointers made (105) and has registered three 20-point outings in the tournament, including 22 points against Oregon. Junior point guard Joel Berry II (14.5 points) is playing through two sprained ankles and was 2-of-14 shooting against the Ducks, while senior forward Isaiah Hicks (11.8) also averages in double digits.
This game is going to be won under the basket and North Carolina has proven that they are the best in the country down low. Gonzaga has a terrific frontcourt, but they haven’t gone up against a team like this. Williams-Goss has his shooting touch back and the three-point shooting will keep Gonzaga in it, but the Tar Heels will pull it out in the end.
Pick: North Carolina -1.5
HEAD TO HEAD
|No trends available.|