NCAA Tournament Championship Game betting preview and odds: Gonzaga vs North Carolina

(1) Gonzaga Bulldogs vs (1) North Carolina Tar Heels (-1.5, 153.5)

Game to be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Gonzaga is in uncharted territory while North Carolina aims to make up for last season’s NCAA championship game loss when the two No. 1 seeds collide on Monday in Glendale, Ariz. The Bulldogs are in the title game for the first time in school history while the Tar Heels, who lost to Villanova last season, are looking to win their sixth national crown.

North Carolina suffered a 77-74 loss last season when Villanova’s Kris Jenkins drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer and the players have been constantly reminded of the fact during their NCAA Tournament run. “I think you’re always going to have that in the back of your mind because it was a heartbreaking experience for us,” said senior center Kennedy Meeks, who matched his career high of 25 points and collected 14 rebounds in Saturday’s 77-76 victory over Oregon. Gonzaga regularly hears a different refrain that suggests they aren’t a championship-caliber squad due to playing in the middling West Coast Conference. “I think the respect thing has to go out the window,” junior point guard Nigel Williams-Goss said after scoring 23 points in Saturday’s 77-73 win over South Carolina. “You have 37 wins in a college season, I mean that’s just unbelievable. And to be playing the last game of the season, we have a chance to play for it all and we’re here to win it.”

TV: 9:20 p.m. ET, CBS

LINE HISTORY: North Carolina opened as two-point favorites but that line was quickly adjusted downward to 1.5 late Saturday night. The total hit the board at 153.5 and has yet to move. Check out the complete line history here.

WHAT BOOKS SAY: “Gonzaga defined the ‘Cinderella’ mantra of college basketball, and it will always be the first to wear the glass slipper,” Cooley said. “But that doesn’t change the fact that to the public, the Zags appear overmatched against the greatest program of all time. We anticipate action on the over, but hopefully the public action will be split on the spread.” – Scott Cooley, odds consultant for offshore sportsbook Bookmaker.eu.

BETTING STATS:
 

 
ABOUT GONZAGA (37-1 SU, 23-10-2 ATS, 17-18 O/U): Backup freshman center Zach Collins displayed why he is the program’s top NBA prospect by contributing 14 points, 13 rebounds and a career-best six blocked shots versus South Carolina. The trio of Collins (averages of 10 points and 5.9 rebounds), senior center Przemek Karnowski (12.3 points, 5.8 rebounds) and junior power forward Johnathan Williams (10.2 points, team-best 6.5 boards) will be counted on to neutralize North Carolina’s strong interior play. Williams-Goss (team-best 16.9 points), senior shooting guard Jordan Mathews (10.8 points, team-leading 83 3-pointers) and sophomore guard Josh Perkins (eight points per game) have combined for 130 of the Bulldogs’ 263 steals.

ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (32-7 SU, 18-16-3 ATS, 15-21-1 O/U): Meeks has been a beast on the boards with a 13.3 rebounding average over the past four games and he is averaging 12.7 points and a team-leading 9.4 rebounds and is a big reason why the Tar Heels boast the best rebounding margin (12.7) in the country. Junior forward Justin Jackson leads the Tar Heels in scoring (18.3) and 3-pointers (105) and he has recorded three 20-point outings in the tourney, including 22 points against Oregon. Junior point guard Joel Berry II (14.5 points) is playing through two sprained ankles – he was just 2-of-14 shooting against the Ducks – while senior forward Isaiah Hicks (11.8) also averages in double digits.

MATCHUP CHART:

CHEERLEADER BATTLE:
 

 
TRENDS:

* Bulldogs are 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 NCAA Tournament games.
* Tar Heels are 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 games as a favorite of 0.5-6.5.
* Under is 10-1 in Bulldogs last 11 games as an underdog of 0.5-6.5.
* Over is 6-1 in Tar Heels last 7 NCAA Tournament games as a favorite of 0.5-6.5.

Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.

COVERS CONSENSUS: 58 percent of Covers users are taking the points with the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the Over is picking up 69 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data here.

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