National Championship Game Betting Preview: #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs vs #1 North Carolina Tar Heels

2017 NCAA Tournament
National Championship
#1 North Carolina Tar Heels vs #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs
Monday, April 3, 2017, 9:20 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, Arizona
Opening Line: North Carolina -2
Current Line: North Carolina pick
Opening Total: 152 1/2
Current Total: 155
Opening Money Line: North Carolina -125 / Gonzaga +105
Current Money Line: North Carolina -120 / Gonzaga +100

North Carolina is a slight favorite over Gonzaga in the National Championship game.

Despite numerous upsets in the NCAA Tournament, two #1 seeds will play for the National Championship Monday night in Glendale, Arizona. The 37-1 Gonzaga Bulldogs will take on the 32-7 North Carolina Tar Heels. While they are both #1 seeds, that is where the comparison ends. Gonzaga had never made the Final Four before this season, while North Carolina is in the championship game for the 11th time. They are seeking their sixth national title, and lost to Villanova on a buzzer beater in the championship game last year.

The series is tied 1-1 between Gonzaga and North Carolina. The Tar Heels won the last meeting 98-77 in the 2009 Sweet 16.

Gonzaga is coached by Mark Few. The Bulldogs won the West Coast Conference regular season title with a 17-1 record and beat rival St, Mary’s 74-56 in the WCC Championship game in Las Vegas. The Bulldogs are the #1 seed in the West region. Gonzaga beat #16 seed South Dakota State 66-46 in the West first round and #8 Northwestern 79-73 in the second round, both in Salt Lake City. Gonzaga beat #4 seed West Virginia 61-58 in the Sweet 16 and #11 Xavier 83-59 in the regional final, both in San Jose. The Bulldogs beat the East Champion #7 seed South Carolina 77-73 in the Final Four Saturday. Gonzaga is making their 20th trip to the tournament including every year since 1999.

Gonzaga lost at home in the regular season finale to BYU 79-71. The Bulldogs have home wins over San Diego State, Washington, Akron, Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, St. Mary’s, Portland, San Diego, Santa Clara, San Francisco, and Pacific. Gonzaga has road wins over Pacific, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Portland, Pepperdine, BYU, Loyola Marymount,  St. Mary’s, and San Diego, plus neutral site wins over Quinnipiac, Florida and Iowa State in Orlando, Arizona in Los Angeles, Tennessee in Nashville, plus Pacific, Santa Clara and St. Mary’s in Las Vegas. Gonzaga is 23-10-2 ATS and the total is 17-18 this season. The Bulldogs were 6.5 point favorites against South Carolina and the total was 138.

North Carolina is coached by Roy Williams. The Tar Heels won the ACC regular season title with a 14-4 record. They beat Miami 78-53 in the ACC quarterfinals in Washington but were upset by Duke 93-83 in the semifinals. North Carolina is the #1 seed in the South Region. UNC crushed #16 seed Texas Southern 103-64 in the first round and #8 Arkansas 72-65 in the second round, both in Greenville, SC. North Carolina beat #4 seed Butler 92-80 in the Sweet 16 and #2 Kentucky 75-73 in the regional Final, both in Memphis. UNC beat the Midwest champion #3 Oregon 77-76 in Final Four Saturday. UNC missed four straight free throws in the last 10 seconds of the game but grabbed two offensive rebounds to seal the win. The Tar Heels are making their 53rd trip to the tournament.

North Carolina has road losses to Indiana, Georgia Tech, Miami, Duke, and Virginia, plus a neutral site loss to Kentucky in Las Vegas. The Tar Heels home wins over Chattanooga, Long Beach State, Davidson, Tennessee, Northern Iowa, Monmouth, NC State, Florida State, Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Louisville, and Duke. UNC has road wins at Tulane, Hawaii, Clemson, Wake Forest, Boston College, NC State, and Pittsburgh, plus neutral site wins over Oklahoma State and Wisconsin in the Maui Invitational, plus Notre Dame in Greensboro. The Tar Heels are 18-16-3 ATS and the total is 15-21-1 this season. North Carolina was a 4 point favorite against Oregon and the total was 152.5.

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Gonzaga is outscoring teams 84-61 this season. The Bulldogs are #14 or better in both categories. Gonzaga is shooting 51.2% from the field and 37.4% from 3 point range. The Bulldogs are #2 nationally in field goal percentage. Gonzaga makes 72.7% of their free throws. Bulldog opponents are shooting 36.7% from the field and 29.9% from 3 point range. Gonzaga is #2 nationally in field goal defense and #7 in three point defense. The Bulldogs average 40.6 rebounds per game and opponents average 29.4 per game. Gonzaga averages 15.6 assists, 11.3 turnovers, 7.1 steals, and 4.6 blocks per game. Opponents average 9.7 assists, 12.5 turnovers, 5.3 steals and 2.7 blocks per game.

Nigel Williams-Goss averages 16.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He is probable with an ankle injury.  Przemek Karnowski averages 12.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. He is probable with an eye injury. Jordan Mathews averages 10.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. Zach Collins averages 10.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. Johnathan Williams averages 10 points and 6 rebounds per game. Josh Perkins, Silas Melson, and Killian Tillie will also get minutes. Center Jacob Larsen is out for the season with a knee injury.

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North Carolina is outscoring teams 85-70 this season. The Tar Heels are #9 nationally in scoring. North Carolina is shooting 47.2% from the field including 36.6% from 3 point range. UNC is #43 nationally in field goal percentage. The Tar Heels make 70.6% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 41.5% from the field and 34% from 3 point range. UNC is in the top 35 nationally in both categories. The Tar Heels average 43.8 rebounds per game and allow 27.4. UNC is #1 nationally in rebounding and #9 in rebounds allowed. The Tar Heels average 18.2 assists, 11.9 turnovers, 6.9 steals and 3.3 blocks per game. Opponents average 11.5 assists, 13.6 turnovers, 6.3 steals and 4.5 blocks per game.

Justin Jackson averages 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, and  2.7 assists per game. Joel Barry II averages 14.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game. He is probable with injuries to both ankles. Kennedy Meeks averages 12.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1 block per game. Isaiah Hicks averages 12.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. Tony Bradley averages 7.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game. Four other Tar Heels average at least 14 minutes per game. Kenny Williams is out for the season with a knee injury.

Gonzaga is 9-2-1 ATS after failing to cover, 12-3 in Monday games, 21-7-2 against teams with winning records, 28-11-2 after a straight up win, 34-15-2 overall, 1-3-1 in non-conference games, and in neutral site games, 1-4-1 in NCAA Tournament games, and 0-3-1 against ACC teams.

North Carolina is 3-0-1 ATS after failing to cover, 14-6-2 in neutral site games, and 1-3-1 after a straight up win.

Both teams score in the 80’s but Gonzaga is a much better defensive team. While Gonzaga plays in the West Coast Conference, they are a major program in every other aspect. North Carolina wants to finish the job that they came up just seconds short last year. However, Gonzaga has arguably been the best team all season. I like the Bulldogs to win a close game and claim their first national title.

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