National Championship Game
Monday, April 3, 2017 – 7 p.m. CST, CBS
No. 1 (West) Gonzaga vs. No. 1 (South) North Carolina
The smoke has cleared from Saturday’s Final Four match-ups and we are down to two teams going after the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the North Carolina Tar Heels, and the battle lines have been drawn.
Roy Williams, UNC head coach, will be coaching in his 100th NCAA Tournament game and going for his third national title. He has rings from 2005 and 2009, coming up just short of having the 2016 title to his collection, but a last second shot from Villanova stopped that.
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few is underrated for his accomplishments in the NCAA. He has taken the Bulldogs to the Tournament for the 18 years he’s been head coach and was the most winningest college head coach without a Final Four appearances, but all that changed this season. He has the chance to going for it all to bring a championship trophy to the Jesuit university located in Spokane, Washington.
The Tar Heels leads the country in rebounding margin and offensive rebounds; this was an advantage for them in Saturday night’s game against the Oregon Ducks. Senior big man Kennedy Meeks is not often called upon to be a leading scorer, but he stepped up against Oregon, Meeks dominated with 25 points on 11-of-13 shooting. He added 14 rebounds, eight on the offensive glass. Point guard Joel Berry II has been dealing with two ankle injuries, but he has to have better control of his driving to the basket and better shot selections. Berry averages 14.5 points per game, but he played 35 minutes Saturday night and was just 2 of 14 from the field. Forward Justin Jackson has to keep on finding spots on the floor to get buckets, he averages a team-best 18.3 points.
The Tar Heels have their hands full with Gonzaga’s big men; they are just as talented and maybe more agile than the Tar Heels’ bigs. Senior center Przemek Karnowski is a load inside at 7-foot-1 and 300 pounds, while freshman 7-footer Zach Collins is a future first-round NBA draft choice. He had 14 points against the South Carolina Gamecocks, setting career highs with 13 rebounds and six blocked shots. Both Karnowski and Collins can pass and shoot in the paint while Collins show great work with Olajuwon-like pivot moves. Guard Nigel Williams-Goss leads the Gonzaga attack that shoots 50.8 percent from the field, second-best in the country. His 16.9 scoring average leads five Bulldogs in double figures.
Glass’ Pick: It will be a close game that will be decided in the last minutes. It will be a defensive-oriented game and the big men from both teams will be a major part of who will win it. The Tar Heels are trying to redeem themselves from the last second disappointment from last year, but they are going to end up like the Buffalo Bills of the 90’s; they might not be a runner-up four years in-a-row, but I see back-to-back.
I have the Gonzaga Bulldogs as the 2017 National Champs.