Gonzaga and North Carolina battle for title tonight

Cheryl Sanders
April 3, 2017

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — For those who follow college basketball, the idea that Gonzaga is playing North Carolina for the national title doesn't seem all that unusual. We feel like we are a really good team. They slipped by Kentucky in the Elite Eight on a game-winning shot just before the buzzer.

Berry is not North Carolina's best player, that's Justin Jackson, but he might be the most important Tar Heel. "I really have. I'd probably say I've been on Kennedy and [former Tar Heels star Brice Johnson] harder than any players I've ever coached".

It is not about any of that now. And it fit with what we're doing and our philosophies were the same as far as playing fast and just running the secondary break. On one side, you've got the towering 7-footers of Gonzaga, Przemek Karnowski, Johnathan Williams and Zach Collins. "It was two teams standing, and then as soon as that shot went in, it was only one team". It was 77-74 so close enough. The site projects 73 possessions. We had a pretty good margin (of 10 points against Oregon), but we have to keep it.

Yes, the ACC is way better than the WCC. The Ducks committed 16 turnovers - as a team. Will the Bulldogs take a bite out of the Tar Heels, or will UNC take the trophy back to North Carolina? Meeks faced a big front line in Florida State but they didn't have the weight of Gonzaga's bigs. The Tar Heels have won five, the most recent coming in 2009. Think those Power Five conferences will be pleased if that happens?

That is for later. The highest rebounding rates of his first three seasons, on both ends of the floor, came as a freshman (15.6 offensive, 24.9 defensive). Most of the sharp money is on Gonzaga, because the numbers bear it out as a sharp play.

North Carolina (32-7), the No. 1 seed in the South, will be seeking its sixth national title.

The stat that jumps off the page is two-point differential. Tony Bradley and Luke Maye each contributed just two points off the bench.

When Roy Williams was in his first season as a Division I head coach with Kansas in 1988, he probably wouldn't have been surprised to see a matchup of two big men who would combine to total almost 600 pounds in the low post. Williams said he has only been tougher on Brice Johnson, who arrived as a skinny forward and left as a double-double machine and an All-American last season.

"Sometimes, it limits me and my movement but other times, I get lost in the game to where I don't even realize the pain". "And I keep pushing and keep pushing".

When it comes to drawing a coach's ire, Meeks is a classic archetype: He arrived at UNC as a talented freshman full of obvious potential, but also checked in at about 320 pounds.

Mid-Major Madness has made it all the way to the end, and what an ending it will be. The missed shot is a weapon for this team.

"They change their defenses a little but not much". Mark Few and the Bulldogs broke through this season and look for the school's biggest win. "He's just a lovable, big Teddy bear".

Considering all that, it's no surprise that Williams views both this team and last year's team as "therapeutic" for him. That's some serious firepower.

Karnowski can be spelled or play with freshman Zach Collins, who had a great game in the semifinal win over SC with 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks.

Kennedy Meeks is the rare 1,000/1,000 player with 1,475 points and 1,042 rebounds. Four shots completely blown in the closing seconds of the game.

Joel Berry and Isaiah Hicks have been largely ineffective during the tournament, especially Saturday against OR when they were a combined 3-for-26 from the field. In that time, they scored six total points, all of which were free throws.

"And so I watch them a lot".

"I guess they were making comments that we were the most nervous team in the tournament", Williams-Goss said. "I mean, it was insane, and there was a weird balance", he said, eventually concluding, "I guess you could say it started as hurt and sadness and then once I saw Kris and spent some time with him I was happy for him".

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