North Carolina set to avenge last year’s heartbreak in NCAA final

Stage is finally set! Gonzaga VS. North Carolina for all the marbles

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After some great games in the Final Four, the stage is officially set for the National Championship. Gonzaga defeated South Carolina in a close game coming down to free throws. North Carolina defeated Oregon, by out rebounding Oregon twice in the final five seconds after missed free throws.

Final Four:

Kennedy Meeks grabs offensive rebound to seal the deal against Oregon in the Final Four

North Carolina vs. Oregon: This game was the Final Four finale, and definitely exceeded all expectations. North Carolina defeated Gonzaga by a score of 77-76. Barely squeaking this one out, North Carolina missed all of their free throws to ice the game in the concluding seven seconds. However, they had two ginormous offensive rebounds by Theo Pinson, and Kennedy Meeks to seal the deal. Meeks scored 20+ and rebounded 15+ for the second time this season against the Oregon Ducks. I think it is safe to say that these teams received each others best shots, and the nation would have been satisfied regardless of who won. Although, North Carolina leader Joel Berry II, may be a little gimpy Monday night after noticeably rolling his right ankle early on in this Final Four game. Oregon, deserves a lot of credit for how deep they made it in the tournament. They pounded a great Kansas team, and looked sharp against a solid, and perhaps hottest team in the tournament in Michigan, and blew over their round of 64 opponent with ease.

 

Joel Berry II against Oregon in the Final Four

Gonzaga vs. South Carolina: Another great Final Four game. The gritty South Carolina Gamecocks showed what they do best, defense, throughout the tournament, and the Final Four game was no different. Gonzaga, usually a potent offense, was held relatively in check by the Gamecocks’ fast paced pack it in style defense. With Gonzaga starting to run away with this one, leading by sixteen at one

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 25, 2017; San Jose, CA, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs center Przemek Karnowski (24) shoots against Xavier Musketeers forward Tyrique Jones (0) during the second half in the finals of the West Regional of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

point, the Gamecocks struck back with a 16-0 run, and tied it up with under seven minutes to play. The game went back and forth for a while with each team trading blows. Gonzaga would go down, hit a three and South Carolina would answer right back, and vice versa. In my opinion, it was one of the best, most fun to watch games of this tournament. One takeaway from this game was Gonzaga’s leader, Nigel Williams-Goss, similar to Joel Berry II from North Carolina, also suffered a badly rolled ankle, but continued to play. It will be interesting to see how these two all-star players rebound from that in the National Championship. Gonzaga ended up beating South Carolina, by icing it with free throw shooting and a  final score of 77-73.

Nigel Williams-Goss against South Carolina in the Final Four

National Championship:

North Carolina vs. Gonzaga: Quite possibly the best match-up of the year. Both teams have extremely talented big men in the middle, with very athletic guards to complement them. I think whoever dominates the inside, such as rebounding, second chance points, and points in the paint will win this game. With that being said, I think North Carolina’s forwards, Isaiah Hicks, and Kennedy Meeks are far too atheltic and talented for Przemek Karnowski of Gonzaga. If Gonzaga wants to have a chance in this one I think they need to shoot lights out beyond the arc, and have less than six turnovers for the game. With that being said, I think North Carolina is going to win this game, and the National Championship. This is because they have the best big men in the nation, and have a plethora of talent at the guard spot to complement their bigs. North Carolina wins posting a final score of 78-71. The game will come down to icing with Free throws, or a big shot to put a team in front.

Prediction:

North Carolina defeats Gonzaga, avenging last year’s heartbreaking last second loss to Villanova.