Gonzaga and North Carolina will face off in the 2017 NCAA Championship game, and the betting odds will likely point to a close game to end the college basketball season.
The two No. 1 seeds advanced to the national title game after winning Final Four matchups on Saturday. Gonzaga outlasted a scrappy South Carolina squad, while North Carolina held out to defeat Oregon. The games will set up a matchup between one of the most successful teams in the last few decades with another perennial contender program looking to finally break through.
The Tar Heels are the pinnacle of college basketball success, making the Final Four 11 times in the last 25 years and winning three titles. Gonzaga has been the most successful mid-major program over the last 20 years, but this year was the team’s first trip to the Final Four and now the first chance at a national title.
North Carolina vs. Gonzaga preview
When North Carolina and Gonzaga clash in Monday’s title game, it could be the frontcourt that decides the winner. The Tar Heels have dominated the paint all season, with forward Justin Jackson leading the way with 18.2 points per game and a repertoire of offensive moves that make him nearly impossible to guard.
Jackson has also been on a tear since the ACC Tournament. After hitting a lull during the tournament — missing 40 of his last 60 shots — Jackson decided to loosen up a bit, AZCentral noted.
It was then that Jackson went back to what made him the ACC Player of the Year.
“I was just putting more pressure on myself for no reason,” Jackson said on Friday, the day before the Tar Heels play Oregon in the Final Four. “I sat down with my parents and they said, ‘Just be the best you you can be. You don’t have to prove why you earned the award.’ “
Jackson had a strong performance in the Final Four, scoring 22 points to go along with two rebounds and two assists.
The 2017 NCAA Championship game could be a challenge for Jackson, who will face off against Gonzaga’s 7-footers, senior Przemek Karnowski and freshman Zach Collins. The pair combined for 18 rebounds in Saturday’s win over South Carolina and Collins had a career-high six blocks to go along with 14 points and 13 rebounds, ESPN noted.
“That’s my job is to go in and rim protect,” Collins said. “I had four fouls today. But I thought, you know, getting those blocked shots would help us.”
North Carolina vs. Gonzaga betting odds
While the full betting odds for the 2017 NCAA Championship game have yet to be released, it’s likely to be North Carolina on top by a very thin margin. Going into the Final Four games this weekend, North Carolina was the slight favorite to win the title (at +140), OddsShark noted.
But Gonzaga was close behind, the site noted.
“Gonzaga is posting the second-best odds with the Bulldogs entering the Final Four at +180. After starting the tourney slowly, Gonzaga decimated Xavier 83-59 in the Elite Eight to book the first Final Four berth in program history. Much like UNC, it has been an often-overlooked player for the Zags who has made the biggest impact. Johnathan Williams has averaged 16 points and seven rebounds while shooting 63.1 percent between the Sweet 16 and the Elite Eight.”
But while the North Carolina vs. Gonzaga betting odds will likely favor the Tar Heels, that may not make them a smart bet. Heading into Saturday’s Final Four game, North Carolina was just 2-2 against the spread in the tournament.
As the Las Vegas Sun noted, that may not make North Carolina a good choice.
“[North Carolina] continues to be the slightest bit overvalued,” the report noted. “And in a game where a strong argument can be made for both sides matchup-wise, there’s no sense in taking the overvalued team.”
Once updated, the full odds for the North Carolina vs. Gonzaga game can be found here.
[Featured Image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]