One game determining one legacy

One game determining one legacy

By: Jack Shapiro ’19

One last game in this year’s March Madness will feature two of the top teams in all of college basketball. The number one seed of the West Gonzaga University will face off against the one seed in the south, North Carolina Tar Heels in this year’s National Championship.

The Tar Heels have a history to back them up on Monday night’s game. Roy Williams, the Tar Heels’ head coach, has been in this position before. Coaching six previous championship games, Williams will have the edge against the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

After losing last year’s National Championship on a last second shot, Williams along with the rest of the Tar Heels will be hoping for a better ending.

This season, the Tar Heels finished 32-7 and ended the season first in the ACC. Williams earned his 800th career win during the season and UNC lead the country with the most rebounds and assists.

One obstacle that may hold the Tar Heels back is an ankle injury that has been holding off star player Joel Berry II. This season, Berry averaged 14.3 points per game along with nearly four assists and three rebounds. Due to Berry’s injury, junior Justin Jackson and sophomore Kennedy Meeks will need to step up big for North Carolina. Jackson averaged a team high of 18 points while Meeks practically put up a double-double a game with about 13 points and nine rebounds a game.

When speaking with ESPN about their upcoming game, Meeks said, “I think our main objective every game is to hit teams early in the mouth, whether that’s attacking them on the offensive end or playing great defense.”

On the other side, Gonzaga will be making their first appearance in the National Championship. In fact, it was their first time in the Final Four on Saturday.

Many have doubted the Bulldogs this season, saying that they have not played against tough enough competition. Yet, after a 37-1 season record and the West Coast Conference championship, they earned the number one seed in the West. The Bulldogs then went on to defeat Northwestern, West Virginia, Xavier, and finally South Carolina in the Final Four.

Head coach Mark Few has coached Gonzaga for the past 18 years and has never gotten passed the Elite Eight. He is also this year’s AP and Naismith Coach of the Year.

While speaking to Scout.com, Few said, “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.”

Tonight, the Bulldogs will be looking towards their junior guard Nigel Williams-Goss and senior big man from Poland, Przemek Karnowski. Williams-Goss has averaged about 17 points and six rebounds per game this season. While Karnowski is averaging 12 points along with nearly six rebounds this season.

The keys to winning for these teams starts with their star player’s performances. The first matchup to watch is the Meeks-Karnowski duo. Meeks this season has averaged more points and rebounds while at the same time, Karnowski is listed as two inches taller and weighs 40 pounds more than Meeks.

Another player to watch is Berry’s performance. On Saturday night, Berry went 2-14 and finished with 11 points. He will need to step up his performance tonight if he wants to help lead his team to victory.

As for Gonzaga, it will all be up to Williams-Goss and Karnowski. Williams-Goss will need to lead this Bulldogs team to victory. If he has a similar night to his 23 point performance against South Carolina then they will have a good chance to win.

Karnowski will need to shut Meeks down throughout the entire night. Karnowski has the height and weight advantage over Meeks which will give him the upper hand in this matchup.

The last key player to watch out for is seven foot forward Zach Collins. Collins is a McDonald’s All-American and has been essential in this March Madness run. After coming off the bench Saturday and managed to put up 14 points and 13 rebounds. If Collins can spark the bench for Gonzaga then this will help them defeat the Tar Heels tonight.

It will all go down to which team can perform to their best ability. Both teams had incredible regular seasons but tonight, it will all be down to who wants it more.