Despite some Cinderella runs going deep into the 3rd and 4th rounds, the title game will feature two No.1 seeds, as Gonzaga takes on North Carolina for the National Championship. When the Zags make their championship debut Monday night, they will be the first West Coast Conference team to play for the national title since Bill Russell’s 1958 University of San Francisco squad. In contrast, UNC returns a group that played on this stage just last season. The Gavel Sports writers offer their thoughts on who will cut down the nets Monday night in Phoenix.
Ellen Gerst: Two number one seeds in the final wouldn't be exciting if the Zags were any other team. You gotta pick the finals newbies to win this one over Roy Williams and UNC—no one really needs 3 championships. God, Jesus, and St. Ignatius himself will descend to help Gonzaga get the W over a UNC team that's been relying on Justin Jackson a little too much and didn't look that great against Oregon. West coast forever - go Zags baby! FINAL: 75-72 Gonzaga
Maksim Khegay: The Tar Heels’ last second heroics to secure their past two games are testaments to their resilience and tournament experience. Led by future lottery pick Justin Jackson, they return for their second straight championship game with the intention of adding another title to their program’s rich history. FINAL: 79-73 UNC
Carter Montgomery: Gonzaga will be making its title debut Monday thanks to the interior presence of Przemek Karnowski and the consistent scoring of Nigel Williams-Goss. Unfortunately for the Zags, they haven’t seen a team as deep as UNC. The Tar Heels’ experience and explosive second unit redeems their title loss from a year ago. FINAL: 84-78 Heels
Matt Schaengold: In a tournament filled with upsets, we finish with two number one seeds in the final. In the end, UNC will avenge its heartbreaking loss from last year’s championship, riding the versatility of its bigs as they will be too much to handle for Gonzaga’s Karnowski and company. FINAL: 75-73 UNC
ET: Gonzaga with the easiest road to the NCAA Championship in college basketball history? Regardless, they’ve made it to the final with one loss the entire season, while UNC enters the final with seven recorded losses in 2016-17. Joel Berry II’s ankle is still in remission; without their point guard—who went 2/14 from the field on Saturday—hitting those crucial deep shots, it’s gonna be tough. The Tar Heels are not as formidable as they appear—let’s remember when BC hung with and nearly took down the Heels for the second year in a row back in January. FINAL: 81-79 Gonzaga