How the Gonzaga Bulldogs, North Carolina Tar Heels Figured in the NCAA 2017 Title Game
on Apr 04, 2017 03:34 AM EDT
The University of North Carolina has snared this year's National Championship. While the 71-65 score may indicate a not-so-close tussle, the matchup has actually assumed a down-the-wire finish. The season finale may have been settled but it is essential at one point to take a closer glimpse as to how the Tar Heels and the Bulldogs reached the NCAA Finals.
Gonzaga and North Carolina have proven that their top rankings are well-deserved. Both teams have managed to capitalize and sustain their strengths when it really mattered most.
What has kept the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the thick of things is probably their elite defensive effort. Although the team's 37-1 record in the West Region signifies an offensive juggernaut on the court, it is their defense that has bailed them out. Gonzaga's rival ball clubs are just shooting a dismal 34 percent against them.
It has been a roller coaster ride for the Bulldogs for most of the season. During the early rounds, Gonzaga has struggled in wins over South Dakota State, Northwestern University and West Virginia. However, Nigel Williams-Goss, Zack Collins, Przemek Karnowski and Jordan Mathews have regained their bearings as Gonzaga rolled past Xavier and South Carolina convincingly.
On the other hand, North Carolina has unraveled its dominance in the middle as the powered their way to a 32-7 slate in the South. The Tar Heels have always sustained their floor mastery although their form this year needs a lot to be desired. Still, the team has made remarkable runs over Arkansas and Kentucky to set up a hairline triumph over Oregon in the semis. With Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks and Nate Britt dominating, the North Carolina Tar Heels are averaging a monstrous 15.6 offensive caroms per game.
Prior to the final game, Gonzaga coach Mark Few has pointed out the supremacy of North Carolina on the glass. Although the Bulldogs have the size to match well with the Tar Heels, it is likely that their defense will spell the difference on the floor.
Meanwhile, North Carolina has some déjà vu scenario to go through only this time, the outcome is far more favorable to what they've endured last year when Villanova stunned them at the buzzer. The squeaker over Oregon has potentially propelled the Tar Heels to the title.