North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs
Date and Time: Monday, April 3, 2017, 9:20 p.m. ET
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
National Championship Game Odds: North Carolina -2.5, O/U 153.5
North Carolina vs. Gonzaga TV Coverage: CBS
When North Carolina Has the Ball…
The Tar Heels have a habit of figuring out how to get the shot they want with regularity. They opened up just 3-for-16 from the field and really struggled to get their shots up against Oregon, but they went on a tear in the second half and basically found ways to get dunks and layups, whether that be on penetration or off of offensive rebounds. That doesn't even include the two big offensive rebounds that came in the last six seconds of the game following an uncharacteristic four straight missed foul shots to salt away the Ducks once and for all.
The bottom line for the Zags is that they flat out can't allow North Carolina to dominate on the offensive glass. That means we're going to see a lot of at least two, if not all three of Johnathan Williams, Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins on the floor at all times. What will that open up? All of the speed the Heels bring to the table.
Joel Berry II has had a rough tourney. He's not shooting the ball well, and he seems to be forcing things just a bit. That said, he's a fantastic shooter from the outside and could end up being a big difference maker as a penetrator to the hoop with bigger and slower Bulldogs trying to figure out how to guard him.
When Gonzaga Has the Ball…
You hate to say that the Bulldogs have to figure out how to "out-Carolina" North Carolina, but the argument could be made for Mark Few's bunch using all three of its bigs at once to try to force the Heels to stay big as well. This might be the best offensive lineup that can be thrown out there for Gonzaga when you consider the fact that Josh Perkins has only scored a total of 16 points in his last four NCAA Tournament games.
Collins is the one to keep an eye on. He's started to develop a bit of an outside game, and if he's the bona fide center on the court, that could draw Kennedy Meeks away from the basket, a place where he isn't all that comfortable.
The Bulldogs are a fantastic rebounding team, and they took big time advantage of that against South Carolina before they got themselves into a boatload of foul trouble…
The X Factor
Segway! The Bulldogs simply do not have the flexibility to afford foul trouble like they had against South Carolina. Perkins fouled out. Collins and Karnowski both finished with four fouls, while Williams had three. This UNC team has a history of getting opponents into issues with the zebras, averaging 22.4 foul shots attempted per game.
We saw what happened Jordan Bell was playing a bit on the scared side because of an unusually large number of whistles in the Final Four games. Meeks was, at one point, 11-for-11 from inside the arc before finally missing a bunny from in close late on.
The biggest thing for North Carolina is that it has to stay aggressive. Berry and Isaiah Hicks can't just settle for jumpers all game long. That's how this team got into trouble against Oregon in the first half and how it got into trouble at times against Villanova. The Tar Heels have to get to the hoop, force contact and make the officials make calls. If they do that, they're winning the National Championship.