Two No. 1 seeds, Gonzaga and North Carolina, will face off for the 2017 NCAA Division I men's basketball championship on Monday.
Here's a look at the entire NCAA tournament bracket and the schedule for Monday's game alongside a quick preview.
|NCAA Championship Game|
|No. 1 Gonzaga vs. No. 1 North Carolina||Monday, April 3||9:20 p.m.||CBS|
The key to this game will be the battle of the bigs down low.
Gonzaga freshman center Zach Collins broke out in the Final Four, scoring 14 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and blocking six shots in a 77-73 win over South Carolina. He posted an historic performance, as ESPN Stats and Info noted:
Collins will be the individual X-factor in the national championship. UNC is notoriously dominant down low and has the best rebounding margin in Division I. If Collins is able to come off the bench and produce another fantastic game, then UNC could be in trouble.
Don't sleep on Gonzaga starting center Przemek Karnowski, either, especially if he and Collins are sharing the floor together as they did at times against South Carolina. Karnowski scored 13 points, pulled down five rebounds and even dished three assists even though he had to leave late in the first half after suffering an eye injury (he returned after halftime).
Karnowski stands at 7'1" and 300 pounds, while Collins is 7' and 230 pounds. UNC's primary big men, seniors Kennedy Meeks (6'10", 260 pounds) and Isaiah Hicks (6'9" and 242 pounds), will face their biggest tests of the season.
But the same can be said for Gonzaga as well, because Meeks has been fantastic lately. Against Kentucky, Meeks grabbed 17 rebounds and blocked four shots. He was also unstoppable against Oregon, scoring 14 points, getting five rebounds and even nabbing a pair of steals in the first half alone (he finished with 25 points, 14 boards and three steals).
Another factor to keep an eye on: Both teams have a tremendous amount of depth. Will one team's reserves do better than the other?
Nine players average at least 14 minutes per game for the Tar Heels, and four players score at least 12 points a game. In other words, if some players are cold on a given night, others can take over and pull the team's scoring weight.
Take Saturday's UNC-Oregon game, for example. Meeks shot 6-of-7 in the first half while the rest of UNC was just 8-of-28, and yet the Tar Heels were still winning, 39-36 at the break.
Gonzaga is a deep team based off the fact that it can throw two 7' centers at teams, but the Bulldogs also have seven players who average at least seven points per game. Eight players play at least 12 minutes per night.
This should be a great championship that can go either way, depending on the breaks of the game. Gonzaga can win its first national title in school history and finish the year with a remarkable 38-1 record, while North Carolina can get its sixth all-time championship.
It's must-see TV for sports fans on Monday night. You won't want to miss it.