UNC Tar Heels outlast Gonzaga Bulldogs, 71-65

It will be the two sides of the college spectrum in this one, as the classic college blue blood in the North Carolina Tar Heels takes on the West Coast, first championship appearance Gonzaga Bulldogs in the culmination of the 2017 tournament. First, we take on the Final Four recap and guess the championship scores (before the game), then we will stay up late on a school night to give you the championship recap.

Final Four Recap

Ryan –

Monday will provide us with an extremely intriguing championship matchup as the North Carolina Tar Heels face off against the Gonzaga Bulldogs. The Tar Heels are a true ‘blue blood’ program in college basketball and are appearing in their 20th Final Four appearance (most all time).  They are also looking to capture their 6th National Championship in school history.  Gonzaga meanwhile is a tiny private school from Washington appearing in their first Final Four.  North Carolina, as expected from a team that’s playing in the National Championship, is very solid at every position on the floor.  They have a slew of tall, tough and talented big men complimented by guards that can spread the floor and feed the ball inside.

Starting point guard Joel Barry is the guy that makes it all go right for the Tar Heels.  Often if Barry is not playing well, neither is North Carolina.  The senior point guard averages 14 points a game while creating opportunities for his teammates as he dishes out nearly four assists a game. North Carolina is finding ways to win in the tournament, however, as Barry has been struggling as of late.  Slowed by an ankle injury, Barry has had a less than spectacular tournament making it even more impressive that the Tar Heels are even in this position.

Gonzaga meanwhile has only one loss on the season.  Many people scoff at that feat because they play in the weaker West Coast Conference but a team that goes 37-1 is not one to laugh at. It will be a matchup of All-American guards, as Joel Barry from North Carolina will be asked to guard Nigel Williams-Goss from Gonzaga.  Williams-Goss will try to use his size against Barry as he has a couple of inches on him.  When the shot clock is running down, look for Williams-Goss in pick and roll situations with center Przemek Karnowski.  Karnowski is a hulk of a man (7’1”, 310 lbs.) and can take up loads of space down low in the trenches.  He can also score efficiently.  In 22 minutes per game, Karnowski averages nearly 13 points a game and 6 rebounds a game.  The matchup down low of Karnowski and Meeks might decide the game.

Gonzaga has a great shot to win this game.  The new guys on the block can, and will take down the Tar Heels from North Carolina.  For years, this country has been down-playing what Gonzaga has been doing out on the west coast and now is the time everyone better start paying attention because by the time the clock strikes zero Monday night, Gonzaga will be hoisting its first National Championship trophy in school history.

Prediction: Gonzaga wins 82-78.

Colt –

Poor shooting and rebounding on the defensive glass led to the Oregon Ducks’ heartbreaking 77-76 loss Saturday night against North Carolina. The Tar Heels ended the game with 17 offensive rebounds and were much stronger on the offensive glass than the Ducks. Oregon’s best players struggled to do much all game; Dillon Brooks only scored 10 points on 2-11 shooting before fouling out of the game with 1:32 left on the clock. Tyler Dorsey also struggled to find his shot, only going 3-11 from the field. Dorsey did finish with 21 points however and he was able to get to the line and convert on 12-12 from the charity stripe, to make up for the poor shooting night.

The most glaring mistake made by Oregon was the lack of rebounding on the defensive glass in the last seconds of the game. Not once, but twice, Oregon gave up an offensive rebound to North Carolina with just seconds left on the clock, taking the chance to win away from themselves.

Tar Heel fans must be excited though. They have punched their ticket to the championship for the second time in two seasons and are facing fellow No.1 seed Gonzaga. North Carolina has to be determined to win the tournament after it was taken away from them last year by Villanova’s Kris Jenkins’ buzzer-beating three. Gonzaga is looking strong as well though, and if they continue to ride their combination of 7-footers in Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins on the inside, North Carolina must get creative on offense if they want redemption.

Prediction: Gonzaga wins 71-69.

Colton –

While you can break down the games with all kinds of shooting stats or rebounding or foul trouble, the big difference for both winning teams are quite simple: depth.

Dillon Brooks and Jordan Bell went away for long stretches of the game and this team is not built deep enough to compensate for two of their studs disappearing for 30 minutes. On the other side, when Hicks could not generate more than two points and Joel Berry II went 2-14 shooting, Meeks stepped up for 25 points and eight offensive boards. When Gonzaga’s Perkins dropped an egg, Collins came off the bench for 14 points and 13 rebounds, grabbing a double-double against the second-most efficient defense in the tournament. Both teams that advanced had a layer of players behind the two or three everyone expects to produce who can contribute and be a difference maker in the spotlight when the first line fails.

Both these teams have length and deep shooting in the backcourt, size and aggressive rebounding in the front court, and depth to keep a game star studded for 40 minutes. Despite the difference in pedigree, this will be a great game.

Prediction: UNC wins 83-78.

Championship Reactions

Colton –

What a performance from the Tar Heels, as they were able to outlast the Bulldogs barrage from Williams-Goss (ending with 15 points and nine rebounds) and company early to seal a championship. After a tough tournament that saw him enduring a high ankle sprain, the veteran Berry II, had the night the Tar Heels needed him to have so desperately with 22 points, six assists and a pair of steals in a nail-biter game that went to the wire. Hicks also stepped up after a Final Four showing with 13 points and two huge blocks in the second, while the studs for Gonzaga on the other side could only grab a pair of double-digit scorers and saw Collins foul out.

In the end, the nail in the coffin were turnovers as the Bulldogs had 14 to UNC’s four, the costliest coming late in the game as the Tar Heels sealed the 71-65 win with a 9-2 run in the final minutes to claim the Championship Title.

Ryan –

Looking more like a heavyweight boxing match, the National Title game between the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the North Carolina Tar Heels was an ugly, grind-it-out type of game. Both squads missed shots early that they would normally make while turning over the ball seemed to be the norm. Gonzaga had the edge going into the locker rooms at halftime, 35-32.

Two main story lines emerged as the second half went along. First, the Joel Berry show.  The Tar Heel point guard carried his team to victory down the stretch, hitting clutch-three after clutch-three. The spectacular senior finished the game with a team-high 22 points and six assists.  The second main storyline that emerged was how involved the refs were in this game.  With nine minutes remaining in the second half, there were already 22 fouls called on both teams, including four on both of Gonzaga’s big men.  By the five-minute mark, the Bulldogs had the chore of going without 7’0” big man Zach Collins. Down the stretch, North Carolina did what was necessary to win. They had some key steals in big-time situations and deserve to be called National Champions.

Colt –

North Carolina redeemed themselves after a heart-breaking loss last year in the national championship with a 71-65 victory over the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

Neither team shot very well in a closely contested contest between North Carolina and Gonzaga. The Tar Heels were able to pull out the narrow victory, while being out-rebounded 49-46 by the Bulldogs. North Carolina’s Isaiah Hicks was a huge part of the win, with two big time shots to help lift the Tar Heels past Gonzaga.

Hicks finished the game with 13 points on 5-9 shooting and 9 rebounds. Joel Berry was also a key contributor for North Carolina ending the game with 22 points and 6 assists, hitting all the Tar Heels’ three’s. Somehow, they pulled out the victory, while being out-rebounded and shooting 4-27 from behind the arch.

Well that’s it for college ball, as UNC takes the crown, thanks for listening to our humble options throughout and hope we could bring something more to your March Madness experiences.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.