Monday's Title Game Should Be a Brawl

Powerhouses UNC, Gonzaga are stacked with giant, veteran players
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 2, 2017 5:44 AM CDT
Monday's Title Game Should Be a Brawl
North Carolina forward Justin Jackson (44) celebrates in front of Oregon guard Payton Pritchard (3) at the end of a semifinal in the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. North Carolina won 77-76.    (Mark Humphrey)

Their pedigrees are different, but both teams are loaded with veterans. Both have some heft in the middle. When Gonzaga meets North Carolina for the NCAA national championship on Monday night, it could be quite a brawl, reports the AP. "They're big just like us and they match up with us pretty well," North Carolina's Theo Pinson said. The centers are beastly. Gonzaga (37-1) brings 7-foot-1, 300-pound Przemek Karnowski. He will have 3 inches and 40 pounds on the Tar Heels' 6-10, 260-pound Kennedy Meeks, who may have had the best game of his career in Saturday night's 77-76 win over Oregon. "Kennedy, I thought, was awesome," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said. "I thought he controlled everything inside—25 points, 14 rebounds, 11 of 13 (shooting)." Karnowski was one of the main reasons that Gonzaga regrouped after blowing a 14-point second half lead to beat South Carolina 77-73.

But the Zags also have 7-foot, 230-pound Zach Collins, whose 3-pointer gave Gonzaga the lead. Collins had 14 points, 13 rebounds, and six blocked shots to help propel Gonzaga—in its first Final Four—into the title game. North Carolina (32-7), the No. 1 seed in the South, will be seeking its fifth national title. Gonzaga, the No. 1 seed in the West, finally has made it after knocking on the door so many times under coach Mark Few. "I've had some really, really tough teams," Few said. "I've had some really close teams. I've had some teams that have been crazy efficient on the offensive end and ones that have been pretty darned good on the defensive end that probably didn't get credit for it. These guys are all of that. All of it." "The journey we've been on has just been unreal, and we just never stopped believing ... the entire season long," says Gonzaga guard Nigel Williams-Goss. (More Gonzaga stories.)

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