No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 1 North Carolina Preview
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, Arizona
When: Monday, April 3, 2017, 9:20 PM ET
TV Broadcast: CBS
Writer’s Prediction: Gonzaga Bulldogs (+1.5)
College Basketball News and Previews
- 2017 NCAA March Madness Final Four Preview
- Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Preview
- North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Oregon Ducks Preview
Betting on the Gonzaga Bulldogs (+1.5)
The Gonzaga Bulldogs are one win away from clinching their first national championship in school history. The Bulldogs brought down Cinderella team South Carolina, 77-73, in a hard-fought contest. They let a big double-digit lead slip in the second half, but as they’ve done a couple other times in this tournament run, they rallied in time to hold on for the win.
The Zags’ top-ranked defense limited the Gamecocks to just 38 percent shooting. Gonzaga’s offense, on the other hand, had no such problems against SC’s suffocating defense. The Bulldogs shot 48 percent from the field for the second straight game, and also knocked down 9-of-19 from beyond the arc.
Point guard Nigel Williams-Goss wass outstanding once again for Gonzaga, as he led the way with 23 points, five rebounds, and six assists. Freshman Zach Collins was also instrumental with 14 points, 13 boards, and six blocks off the Bulldogs bench.
On paper, the Zags match up very well with North Carolina. They have the size and depth upfront with Przemek Karnowski, Johnathan Williams, and Collins to do what Oregon couldn’t, which is to keep UNC from dominating on the offensive glass.
Meanwhile, Jordan Mathews and Williams-Goss are very capable defenders who can make life difficult for North Carolina’s star perimeter players, Justin Jackson and Joel Berry.
Betting on the North Carolina Tar Heels (-1.5)
North Carolina made life a lot more difficult for themselves against Oregon as they failed to make a bunch of late free throws, which gave the Ducks a chance to steal the game. Luckily for the Tar Heels, they got the crucial breaks needed to win, 77-76, and reach their second consecutive championship game.
Once again, Kennedy Meeks was simply unstoppable on the glass. After grabbing a career-high 17 rebounds against Kentucky in the previous round, Meeks racked up 14 more boards to go along with his team-high 25 points on 11-of-13 shooting against Oregon. Justin Jackson chipped in with 22 points for the Tar Heels.
However, the Tar Heels have a big concern heading into the title game: Joel Berry. The junior point guard had yet another bad shooting game, as he went just 2-of-14 from the field for 11 points. He was also the main culprit in terms of missing some clutch free throws which would’ve sealed the game.
Berry’s now shooting just 17-of-60 (28 percent) from the field in the tournament, in large part because of not one, but two ankle sprains.
North Carolina still has a couple of players in Isaiah Hicks (2 points, 1-12 FG) and Luke Maye (2 points, 0-3 FG) who can play much better than they did against Oregon. But with their rebounding advantage unlikely to be as glaring against Gonzaga, Berry’s ineffectiveness could be what undoes their championship hopes for a second straight year.
Gonzaga (+1.5) goes on to break UNC hearts as the underdog Bulldogs beat the Tar Heels to win the national title.
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