Both North Carolina and Gonzaga survived close games to advance to the NCAA Championship game. For UNC, this is their 11th national title appearance, and they’re 5-5 so far in the championship. For Gonzaga, this is both their first Final Four and national title appearance in school history.
The Bulldogs punched their ticket here with a 77-73 victory over 7-seed South Carolina. They were winning handily, but had to fight off a second-half surge as the Gamecocks got hot.
UNC’s victory was a 77-76 nail-biter, and they needed two offensive rebounds to prevent Oregon from getting a final shot attempt. This is the second time in the last week that the Tar Heels needed last-second heroics to win, but they’re here in the championship for the second year in a row.
The line at GTBets.eu is extremely close for tomorrow night’s game, and the winner will likely cover their 1.5-point spread. Who’s it going to be? Find out as we analyze both Carolina and Gonzaga’s chances of winning, and look at their recent records against the spread (ATS).
No. 1 Gonzaga (37-1) vs. No. 1 North Carolina (32-7); Monday (April 3 @ 9:20pm ET)
GTBets.eu Betting Line: Oregon +1.5 (-110); North Carolina -1.5 (-110)
Why the Bulldogs will Cover their +1.5 Spread
The Zags are one of the few teams that can match up with UNC from both a size and perimeter perspective. In fact, with 7-footer Zach Collins coming off the bench, one could argue that Gonzaga has the best talent down low.
Collins, a potential NBA lottery pick, is averaging 10.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks on the season. The freshman played an outstanding game against South Carolina, hitting 6-of-10 shots, collecting 13 rebounds, and blocking 6 shots.
Their other big guy is Polish bruiser Przemek Karnowski, a 7’1″, 300-pounder who averages 12.3 points and 5.8 boards. 6’9″ forward Johnathan Williams is also good inside, scoring 10.2 PPG and grabbing 6.5 rebounds. Williams didn’t do much against the Gamecocks, but Karnowski did, making 6-of-12 attempts.
This team is led by senior point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who averages 16.9 points and 4.7 assists per game. Williams-Goss fueled the win over South Carolina and their star guard, P.J. Dozier, as he scored 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting. This was his best shooting game of the tournament, meaning Williams-Goss is stepping up at the right time.
One more guard who’ll play a big role against UNC is Jordan Williams. The 6’4″ senior scored 12 points against the Gamecocks on just 4-of-11 shooting – with all four makes being three’s. He hasn’t shot well in the tournament, but if he can hit against the Tar Heels, it would be a huge boost.
Coming into March Madness, depth was one of Gonzaga’s biggest assets. However, Mark Few shortened up his rotation against South Carolina, only playing Collins, junior guard Silas Melson (7.3 PPG), and freshman forward Killias Tillie (4.3 PPG) off the bench. Considering that starting guard Josh Perkins scored zero points in 22 minutes, the Zags didn’t have much firepower outside of Williams-Goss, Collins, Karnowski, and Williams.
If they can get just one more player to step up, then they have a real chance of beating North Carolina and winning their first-ever title. The size, perimeter play, and talent is there, especially with Collins. They just need to execute the game plan.
ATS: In the tournament, Gonzaga is 2-2-1. In their last 10 games, they’re 4-5-1.
Why the Tar Heels will cover their -1.5 Spread
For North Carolina, the goal has been the same all year long: make the championship game. The contest against Oregon was too close for comfort, and the Tar Heels had one of their worst shooting performances (36.8%). But, as has been the case all season, they again have the talent edge.
First off, 6’10” senior forward Kennedy Meeks is playing the best basketball of his career. Against Kentucky, he got the job done with 17 rebounds and 4 blocks. Against the Ducks, he did it with his scoring, hitting 11-of-13 attempts for 25 points. This was much needed because nobody else on the team shot above 50%.
As we’ve discussed throughout March Madness the Tar Heels’ big advantage is that they can keep throwing big guys at opponents. This includes forwards 6’9″ Isaiah Hicks (11.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG), 6’10” Tony Bradley (7.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG), Theo Pinson (6.1 PPG), and Luke Maye (5.7 PPG).
One reason why the Oregon game was so close is that these four forwards combined for 4-for-25 shooting and 14 points. Hicks was especially bad since the sophomore shot 1-for-12 from the field. But Hicks and the rest of this group are also capable of big things, and they give UNC front-line depth that nobody in the country can match.
Gonzaga will also have to worry about team stars Justin Jackson (18.3 PPG) and Joel Berry II (14.5 PPG). Both are streaky shooters who can win games as a duo. Jackson had a solid game against Oregon, shooting 6-for-13 – with all of his makes being three-pointers. Berry, on the other hand, struggled and made just 2-of-14 shots.
If North Carolina has both Berry and Jackson hitting at the same time, then, combined with UNC’s size, this game will be over. If not, they’re still the better team by a slight margin and capable of winning with their large rotation of forwards.
ATS Record: In the tournament, UNC is the same as Gonzaga, going 2-2-1. In the last 10 contests, they’re 5-4-1, making them slightly better ATS lately.
Final Thoughts on Gonzaga vs. North Carolina Betting
Again, the Zags are one of the few teams that has the all-around talent to play with North Carolina. We love their size down low with Collins, Karnowski, and Johnathan Williams. They also have a couple of guards in Williams-Goss and Jordan Williams, who can match up well with UNC’s Berry and Jackson.
Nevertheless, the Tar Heels have been more talented all-around than everybody they’ve faced. We’d love to see the story of Gonzaga – a West Coast Conference school – winning the national title game. But we think that UNC is too good, plus they’re on a mission to avenge last year’s championship loss to Villanova.
Final Score Prediction: UNC wins 78-75