All great things must come to an end and the unbelievable NCAA Tournament will conclude tonight at the University of Phoenix Stadium. After ridiculous upsets and teams like South Carolina making runs out of nowhere, two of the top seeds, North Carolina and Gonzaga, will meet tonight in the men’s basketball championship.
UNC will be making their second straight appearance in the national title game, while Gonzaga is here for the first time. The weekend already brought two thrilling finishes and I would expect the same in Phoenix tonight.
With that, let’s take a look at the odds and make a prediction for which team will come out on top.
Gonzaga vs. UNC National Championship Odds
Spread: UNC -1, via ESPN
Moneyline: UNC (-130), Gonzaga (+110)
UNC Record Against the Spread: 19-17-2
Oregon Record Against the Spread: 24-11-2
Gonzaga vs. UNC Analysis & Prediction
Despite all the wild twists and turns of this year’s tournament, we still ended with the top two teams in the nation as the final teams dancing. Gonzaga, after years of torment in the tournament, has finally reached the final round, while UNC is back to a familiar setting.
This championship game features a veteran, experienced bunch led by inevitable future Hall of Famer Roy Williams at the helm up against a hungry and determined group in the Bulldogs. If there’s anything to expect from the way this tournament’s gone so far, this game should be extremely close when the East meets the West.
Just on experience alone, UNC should probably be the favored team in this matchup, but the madness of the tournament changes everything. Both teams are led by their fair share of star players. Nigel Williams-Goss has been a stud all year, averaging nearly 17 points a game. On the other side, the Tar Heels rely on one of the best players in the country, Justin Jackson, who posts an average of 18.3 points per game.
Both of these teams possess strong front courts with no lack of big men. This game should include one heck of a battle on the boards, and Gonzaga limiting UNC’s offensive rebounds and second chance opportunities could certainly be a game changer. Oregon had no answer, giving up 17 offensive rebounds to the Tar Heels, clearly hurting them.
Gonzaga and UNC are both high-scoring teams, who have been able to the right things on the defensive ends, as well. The two top seeds match up very well together, giving the edge, in my opinion, to Gonzaga.
UNC hasn’t played a team exactly like the Bulldogs in the tournament. UNC is back for revenge in the title game, while Gonzaga is just getting used to the new spotlight. Gonzaga has proved unfazed so far, and I think they’ll continue that. In the end, I think the Bulldogs’ front-court is strong enough to keep UNC in check. The game should come down to the wire and I trust Gonzaga’s smart play and shooting ability to help them just barely come away as champions.
Prediction: Gonzaga 81, UNC 77