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, Arizona
College Basketball Odds: North Carolina -1, O/U 153.5
North Carolina vs. Gonzaga TV Coverage: CBS
College Basketball Odds
UNC has been pushed to the limit in each of its last two games, but pulled through because of its depth. The Tar Heels relied on their bench against Kentucky, particularly Luke Maye who hit the game winning shot to send UNC to the Final Four. However against Oregon, it was the starters that carried the day. The starters scored 68 of UNC’s 77 points against the Ducks in edging out a victory.
Isaiah Hicks has had some woeful performances in this tournament. He had a bad game against Arkansas, going just 2 of 7 from the floor with 3 turnovers, but has been even worse over Carolina’s last two games. Hicks failed to grab a board in 20 minutes of action against Kentucky and only went 2 of 5 from the floor. Against Oregon, his performance almost sunk the team after he went just 1 of 12 from the field and snared just 3 rebounds too. It’s a testament to UNC that it can survive these performances, but you have to wonder if Roy Williams will be hesitant to play him on Monday night.
Gonzaga is just 1-3-1 ATS in the tourney with the one cover coming at the expense of Xavier. The Bulldogs have played teams much closer than expected, getting scares from South Carolina and Northwestern, and surviving against West Virginia. Under is 7-3 in their last 10 games, but they will be facing perhaps the best offense they have played all season long.
Nigel Williams-Goss came through when it mattered for Gonzaga. The transfer had his best game of the tournament, hitting 9 of his 16 shots and notched 6 assists as well in a 4-point win. It was the outing that Mark Few had been looking for since March Madness tipped off and one that he needs to match if Gonzaga is going to win it all.
Matchup to Watch
The rebounding battle is going to be massively important in this game. Kennedy Meeks has been a bull down low this season and is the main reason why UNC is the top rebounding team in the country. He showed off just how good he is in the paint in the Tar Heels’ last two games, snaring 17 boards against Kentucky and 14 against Oregon to allow the boys in baby blue to gain the rebounding advantage in both games. Meeks can also back down an undersized opponent and score when asked, as evidenced by his 11 of 13 shooting performance against Oregon.
Gonzaga has been a team rebounding unit throughout the season with four of the five starters grabbing 6 boards a game, but need some of their big guys to play up to their height against UNC. In particular, the seven-footers, Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins, are going to need to box out Meeks and company and protect the glass. That means staying out of early foul trouble for both big men.
North Carolina vs. Gonzaga Free Picks
The Tar Heels are only a slight favorite against the Bulldogs in this one as Gonzaga is one of the few teams with the size to match up with them in the frontcourt. Additionally, they aren’t going to have a fully healthy Joel Berry II running the point, with Berry playing on two sprained ankles. Those will be the two biggest reasons why the North Carolina Tar Heels fall in the national title game for the second straight season.
North Carolina vs. Gonzaga ATS Pick: Bet on Gonzaga to win it all
North Carolina vs. Gonzaga Score Prediction: Gonzaga 76, North Carolina 72