UNC and Gonzaga go for all the marbles in Arizona.
The North Carolina Tar Heels and Gonzaga Bulldogs will meet Monday night in the NCAA tournament. The winner is college basketball’s national champion. You don’t need us to tell you this, but we will anyway: It’s going to be great.
The Tar Heels have won five national championships and are in their 20th Final Four. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, have never made a Final Four before this season. This is the biggest game in Gonzaga basketball history, bar nothing.
North Carolina has its own interesting backstory on Monday. The Heels are in the title game for the second year in a row, and they’re hunting redemption. They lost at the buzzer last year, when Villanova’s Kris Jenkins burned them with a three-pointer after a full-court inbounds play. It was a devastating way to go down, and North Carolina’s players and coaches have spoken often about a desire to get back. Now, they have.
Tipoff time for the national championship game
9:20 p.m. ET on Monday.
TV channel for UNC-Gonzaga
CBS. Jim Nantz is the play-by-play man, with analysts Grant Hill and Bill Raftery, and sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson.
Radio for the Final Four
How do I stream the national title game?
North Carolina is a 1.5-point favorite
I’m not sure that’s right. The Zags have been the most consistently great team in the country for more than half of this season. They’ve played an easier schedule than UNC, but they’ve got just one loss to the Heels’ seven. Every team in the country except for Gonzaga has lost at least four times. They’ve been that incredible.
The numbers behind this game favor Gonzaga. The Bulldogs are a better shooting team than the Heels, and they defend from the field better, too. They’re one of the few teams in the country that shouldn’t be athletically overmatched against Roy Williams’s deep and talented roster. Their defense is the best in college hoops.
There’s one big exception, and that’s UNC’s offensive rebounding. The Heels are the best team in the country at getting back their own misses, and that gives them some cushion when they aren’t shooting well. Senior center Kennedy Meeks, the star of their semifinal win against Oregon, is the main driver of UNC’s O-boards bonanza.
This game is close to a tossup. It does seem like we’re left with the two best teams in America, and all that’s left is for one of them to beat the other.