Over the last two days, we’ve gone through each of the four regions of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Our NCAA Tournament Predictions are guaranteed to win you your work pool, but to complete the bracket, you’ll need to fill in the Final Four and National Title Game sections. Let’s finish this out:
2 Duke over 1 Gonzaga
Two of the hottest teams in college basketball will collide at the Final Four. I like Duke to win here because of its versatility. This is one of the better three-point shooting teams in the country, but the Blue Devils have the pieces to slow the Gonzaga frontcourt. Duke is no stranger to this stage, while Gonzaga will be playing in its first-ever Final Four.
1 North Carolina over 2 Louisville
This would mean 5 of the last 8 Final Four teams will have been from the ACC, which doesn’t exactly do my “that conference is overrated” claim much good. But North Carolina and Louisville played once this year, and the Tar Heels ran away with the contest because of 16 offensive rebounds. Overall, North Carolina out-rebounded Louisville by 13 and blew the game open with a fast tempo. I think that more of the same will occur if these teams match up again. The Tar Heels are just too good, too fast, and too deep.
National Championship Game:
2 Duke over 1 North Carolina
If this game actually happens, ESPN will be unwatchable for awhile. It’ll be the 4th matchup of the year for these teams, and despite the historic rivalry, they’ve never actually played for a national championship. If this matchup occurs again, it’ll be a dream for anyone that watches. Not to mention it will be the most-watched college basketball game of all-time.
Expect points, transition opportunities, and a quick tempo. North Carolina will control the offensive glass like they did in all three games with the Blue Devils this year. Where I think Duke has the advantage here is shooting. The Tar Heels’ cold-shooting showed during that pitiful second half in their ACC tournament loss to Duke. If the Blue Devils are hitting their shots, very few teams can slow them down.
In the end, I think Duke wins here for Coach K’s sixth national title. This was the best team in the country heading into the season, and it took a little longer than people expected, but Duke is finally rounding into form. Combine that talent with probably the greatest coach in the history of college basketball, and I’m not going to pick against them.