NCAA Championship Game 2017: Gonzaga vs. North Carolina Final Score Predictions

David McCracken@crackemcFeatured ColumnistApril 3, 2017

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 01:  Zach Collins #32 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs celebrates after defeating the South Carolina Gamecocks during the 2017 NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium on April 1, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. Gonzaga defeated South Carolina 77-73. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

And then there were two.

After another exciting edition of March Madness, calendars have turned to the month of April, and on Monday, a champion will emerge from the 2017 championship game, beating out the other 67 teams who participated in this tournament.

The Final Four had a pair of closely contested games, and the championship game features two No. 1 seeds, the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the North Carolina Tar Heels. The latter are making their second consecutive visit to the championship game after losing a heartbreaker to Villanova nearly a year ago to the day. 

Can Gonzaga make history and win the program's first championship? Or will UNC reclaim its spot atop college basketball?

  

National Championship Game Info

When: Monday, April 3

Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona

Time: 9:20 p.m. ET

TV: CBS

Live Stream: NCAA.com

  

Preview

It's hard to believe this is the 11th time that the Tar Heels will have played in the national championship game. The school has triumphed five times in its history and won two championships with incumbent head coach Roy Williams.

Last year, the Tar Heels were seconds away from another title before the aforementioned Villanova Wildcats played spoilers and broke UNC's heart. But this team, featuring Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks, who have both come up big this tournament run, are looking for revenge. 

The Tar Heels earned a hard-fought 77-76 win over Oregon in their Final Four matchup and will face a stiff test against the Bulldogs. While UNC was only able to scrape past a stout Oregon Ducks squad, it is not short on confidence heading into Monday night's contest against Gonzaga.

At least, point guard Joel Berry II isn't. He said, per Myron Medcalf of ESPN.com:

I just kept on telling them: We're the best team in the country. And the biggest thing is we've just gotta go out there and have fun. ... A lot of people say we dance too much or we laugh or smile too much, but the thing is we're enjoying it, and at the same time we're focused. On a big stage like that, sometimes you gotta be a little loose to get the anxiety out of the way and the butterflies and just go out there and play.

And play the Tar Heels will, because Gonzaga won't go down without a fight.

The Bulldgos were arguably the best team in college basketball during the regular season, but that's nothing new.

Gonzaga has been a strong side for the past few years, always in the hunt but never able to take that next step in the tournament. This year, however, when it appeared that this would just be another season for Gonzaga that would see them crash out of March Madness early, they proved everyone wrong.

After a 77-73 Final Four victory over South Carolina, the Bulldogs will be playing in their first championship game against UNC. After going 37-1 during the regular season, the Bulldogs won all but two of their conference games by double digits, albeit the program plays in a much weaker conference than UNC does in the ACC.

Nevertheless, every team has to earn its way through the regular season and through the tournament. Gonzaga has done just that with all the pressure of being a No. 1 seed on its shoulders. 

Gonzaga and UNC are both well-coached teams, so the winner of this matchup will come down to which team wants it more. Led by fan favorite Przemek Karnowski and his imposing 7'1", 300-pound frame, the Bulldogs are one of the few teams in the country who can go toe-to-toe with the Tar Heels in terms of size and rebounding in the paint.

Look for Gonzaga to utilize the inside-outside on a consistent basis with Karnowski, as he gives Meeks problems because of his sheer size. This is the year Gonzaga finally puts it all together and is able to call itself a national champion.

Prediction: Gonzaga will tough out the victory, winning 72-67.

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