North Carolina is a 1½-point favorite over Gonzaga and the total is 154½ in Monday’s NCAA championship game. Here’s a survey of opinions from Review-Journal staff members, other media, oddsmakers and professional handicappers.
Mark Anderson, Review-Journal: North Carolina, 77-74
The Zags will win if both teams play like they did in the semifinals. But North Carolina will up its game and use last season’s bitter disappointment as motivation.
Bill Bradley, Review-Journal: Gonzaga, 75-70
The Bulldogs will get a lot of fight from the Tar Heels, but Gonzaga is chameleon-like in the way it adapts to its opponents. Mark Few’s crew will adjust and get past North Carolina.
Steve Carp, Review-Journal: North Carolina, 79-74
The Tar Heels have a lot of motivation to win after falling last year on a buzzer-beater. The Carolina guards match up well with the Zags’ and Kennedy Meeks should win the battle of the big men vs. Przemek Karnowski.
Joe D’Amico, AASIwins.com: North Carolina, 76-73
Under a basket, I must side with Roy Williams and his experienced post-season Tar Heels over a Bulldogs team that haven’t played an underdog role this season.
Todd Dewey, Review-Journal: Gonzaga, 80-76
The Zags’ twin towers of Zach Collins and Przemek Karnowski nullify North Carolina’s bigs and point guard Nigel Williams-Goss is X factor as Bulldogs finally win it all.
Chuck Edel, Sportsxradio.com: Gonzaga, 78-74
North Carolina will struggle to shoot from the outside and will not score easily with offensive rebounds. Hope the refs let them play.
Chuck Esposito, Sunset Station sports book director: Gonzaga, 77-71
Gonzaga is one of the few teams that can match North Carolina’s big guys. They play better D, shoot better from the outside and go nine deep. With a win Monday night they finish at 38-1 and cut down the nets.
Doug Fitz, Systemplays.com: North Carolina, 76-70
The overall size advantage will wear down the Zags and the Tar Heels aren’t likely to lose two straight championship games.
Bernie Fratto, BernieFratto.com: North Carolina, 76-73
The Tar Heels have too much talent, depth and size for the Zags. Both teams will bring their best, but North Carolina’s best will be enough to redeem last year’s misery.
Ed Graney, Review-Journal: North Carolina, 78-75
Redemption isn’t perfection, but it’s a really powerful source of motivation. Dadgum Roy gets another title.
Adam Hill, Review-Journal: Gonzaga 74-68
This actually isn’t as big a talent mismatch as some may believe, which is bad news for North Carolina with Roy Williams on the sideline.
Andy Iskoe, Thelogicalapproach.com: North Carolina, 76-68
Carolina should get the redemption it sought since losing to ‘Nova last season. Gonzaga is a great story and might be my choice over any other team except Carolina, which has faced much better competition in this tournament in Arkansas, Butler, Kentucky and Oregon.
Jay Kornegay, Westgate sports book director: North Carolina, 81-77
The Zags are a well-rounded team without any weak links. The Tar Heels have been on a mission of redemption. North Carolina’s bigs will make plays down the stretch as the game slows down in crunch time.
Dana Lane, DanaLaneSports.com: North Carolina, 77-74
The Heels’ relentless pursuit of high-quality shots in the paint will ultimately open up the door for their perimeter game. Carolina’s guard strength will carry Roy Williams’ team to its sixth national title.
Allen Leiker, Review-Journal: Gonzaga, 75-71
The Bulldogs have the size to compete with Carolina’s bigs inside and Mark Few will get the best of Roy Williams in the coaching matchup.
Bryan Leonard, WagerTalk.com: Gonzaga, 76-73
We had the Zags rated higher at the beginning of the tourney. The Tar Heels have been very fortunate to advance.
Vinny Magliulo, Gaughan Gaming, VSIN.com: North Carolina, 78-72
This matchup will cap a record March Madness handle.
Jason McCormick, Red Rock sports book director: North Carolina, 84-76
Gonzaga’s tournament run has been aided with wins over Cinderellas Xavier (No. 11 seed) and South Carolina (No. 7 seed). The Tar Heels bring home the championship that eluded them last year.
Tony Nevill, TI sports book director: Gonzaga, 77-76
I have both teams’ power rankings equal and I would not be surprised to see the game go to overtime. Gonzaga, with its overall experience, will prevail in a game that goes down to the wire.
Micah Roberts, Sportsline.com: Gonzaga, 77-69
First time the Zags have been an underdog all season. I’ll take those points with a team that shoots 50 percent from the field, holds opponents to 37 percent and has been covering inflated spreads all season.
Jeff Sherman, Westgate sports book manager: Gonzaga, 76-73
After years of being relevant, Zags break through in a big way and finally get it done. I’ll go with Mark Few over Roy Williams in this coaching matchup.
Brett Steidler, Review-Journal: North Carolina, 77-74
Zags match up well, but Carolina is on a mission after its heartbreaking loss in Houston last year. Should be easy for them to stay focused with Kris Jenkins sitting behind their bench.
Paul Stone, Vegassportsauthority.com: Gonzaga, 76-73
North Carolina’s Kennedy Meeks will not be able to bully Gonzaga’s Twin Towers of Zach Collins and Przemek Karnowski on the inside. Once viewed as a mid-major curiosity, the Zags are kings of college basketball.
Ken Thomson, SportsXradio.com: North Carolina, 81-72
North Carolina wins a close one to atone for last year’s buzzer beater to ‘Nova. Justin Jackson continues to be my player of the year.
Dave Tuley, ESPN.com, ViewFromVegas.com: Gonzaga, 73-71
I already had the Zags power-rated over the Tar Heels but after watching Oregon’s undersized frontline go toe to toe with Carolina, I like Gonzaga’s chances with their twin 7-footers. Joel Berry being hobbled also has me giving the edge to the Zags’ backcourt led by Findlay Prep product Nigel Williams-Goss.
Matt Youmans, VSIN.com: Gonzaga, 79-77
The Zags are much better on the defensive end. Zach Collins is becoming a force on the front line, and Nigel Williams-Goss will win the point guard matchup.
ATS picks: North Carolina 13, Gonzaga 13
Total: Under 22, Over 4