North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs march madness betting preview
Time: 9:20 PM
Venue: University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, Arizona
Sportsbook March madness odds:
North Carolina -1½ (-110) 154½ (-110) -123
Gonzaga +1½ (-110) 154½ (-110) +103
How they got here
The Tar Heels held off the Oregon Ducks 77-76 in the Final 4 on Saturday to return to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship Game after losing to Villanova a year ago. Kennedy Meeks had 25 points and 14 rebounds (joining Larry Bird, Ed O’Bannon, Carmelo Anthony and Danny Manning as the only players in the past four decades to post 25 points and 14 rebounds in the Final 4), Justin Jackson added 22 points, and Theo Pinson had five assists.
The Bulldogs edged out South Carolina 77-73 and advance to their first ever championship game. Nigel Williams-Goss had 23 points and six assists while Zach Collins grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked six shots.
This will be the third meeting between the Zags and the Heels. The two schools split the two previous encounters. The Bulldogs defeated the Tar Heels 82-74 in the 2006 Preseason NIT (National Invitation Tournament, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing) semifinals, in Madison Square Garden in New York City. North Carolina beat the Gonzaga 98-77 in the 2009 Sweet 16.
March madness betting trends
North Carolina has won its last five games in a row and is 2-3-1 against the spread in the last six games. Gonzaga has won its last eight games in a row, but is 1-5 straight-up in the last six games playing as an underdog – the Zags are not favoured by the March Madness odds for the first time in the NCAA tournament. The total has gone under in seven of the Bulldogs’ last 10 games.
Players to watch
Meeks carried the Tar Heels on his manly shoulders on Saturday. While his teammates (Jackson excepted) threw enough bricks to build a homeless shelter, Meeks shot 11 of 13. More importantly, the big man had eight offensive rebounds, including one that sealed the game after Joel Berry II missed a free throw.
NW-G has scored 20 or more points in three of the Zags’ last four games. Meanwhile Zach Collins just had his best game of the season off the bench.
What to expect
Berry finished 2 of 14 on Saturday and 6 of 26 in the last two games, and has had a 1.2 assist-to-turnover ratio. That dog won’t hunt, Monsignor. UNC’s point guard is going to have to shoot better and/or handle the ball better – preferably both, ankle injury or no ankle injury. Failing that, we can expect the Heels to get by on their rebounding prowess once again.
This just in
According to March madness odds, Gonzaga is the March madness betting underdog. However, according to ESPN Staff Writer Myron Metcalf, we shouldn’t “feel sorry for Gonzaga against the almighty North Carolina Tar Heels.” After all, the Zags have transcended their mid-major-ness and become a powerhouse in their own right.
Much cutting of nets and Gatorade baths.