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The Morning Dish – Monday, April 3, 2017

April 3, 2017 The Morning Dish No Comments

It’s all come down to one game. 351 teams in Division I began practice in the fall with the ultimate goal to be playing on this Monday night in April.

One team had the chance to do this just last year, and lost a heart-breaker. The other team is here for the first time, but not about to let that affect them. In some ways, the two teams playing on Monday night are similar, but in others, they couldn’t be more different.

The differences are more obvious, so we’ll start there. Gonzaga has not had a football team in over seven decades, while North Carolina has produced a number of NFL players and had a few years with highly-ranked teams. To be sure, UNC is not a “football school”, but they have had their share of success.

Gonzaga has been on a terrific run for about two decades now, but this is their first Final Four appearance. North Carolina, meanwhile, has won five national championships and has numerous banners and jerseys in their cavernous building attesting to the program’s long-time winning ways.

Gonzaga is a private Jesuit institution, one of 28 members of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities; North Carolina is a public university with an enrollment more than three times that of Gonzaga. North Carolina’s athletic budget is much bigger than Gonzaga’s primarily because of football, as North Carolina’s football budget alone is bigger than Gonzaga’s entire athletic department.

That brings us to the similarities between the two. When it comes to men’s basketball, there isn’t nearly as pronounced a difference in budget; in 2015, North Carolina spent more than Gonzaga, but the difference is in the lower seven figures instead of eight like the overall figures, according to Equity in Athletics data from the U.S. Department of Education.

Both programs have won a lot of basketball games of late, and not just this season, where both won a major in-season tournament. And these two teams match up really well with each other in a way that should make this a great game to watch.

North Carolina’s inside play, led by Kennedy Meeks, was too much for Oregon on Saturday night. Gonzaga has the bodies to match up with the Tar Heels, from Przemek Karnowski to freshmen Zach Collins and Killian Tillie. That means it will be a little tougher for the Tar Heels to do the same thing on Monday night.

In fact, each team brings an impact freshman post player off the bench, as North Carolina has Tony Bradley to counter Collins. Bradley has had to wait his turn in terms of having a big role on this team, but he has made a sizeable impact in relatively limited minutes this season.

The biggest difference with Gonzaga this season compared to last season is on the perimeter. Nigel Williams-Goss has been a game-changer since becoming eligible, and getting Jordan Mathews as a graduate transfer was huge. Add them to Josh Perkins, and you have a unit that did a lot of damage on Saturday to South Carolina. The perimeter unit has had a big year even without highly-touted freshman Zach Norvell Jr., a top 100 prospect who is redshirting.

The Bulldogs can match up with the Tar Heel perimeter players. In fact, that might be where the difference is found on Monday night. If North Carolina’s perimeter players have a similar night to Saturday, they will have a tough time on Monday night unless they play terrific defense all the way around. Joel Berry II, their most important player, will undoubtedly gut it out one more time on a bum ankle, and he will need help from the likes of Theo Pinson and Isaiah Hicks.

There is a lot of reason to think this will be another great national championship game. Matching last year’s thriller will always be very difficult, but giving viewers a great game is always a possibility. This time around, that seems more likely that usual.

Three head coaches join us to talk about this and more on College Basketball Tonight. We hope you enjoy the show, and then enjoy the national championship game this evening.

 

Side Dishes

It was a light day of news, but there was a development in the search to find the next head coach at Georgetown. No, we’re not talking about this well-done column by SI.com’s excellent insider Pete Thamel, although that gives you a sense of what is going on there. ESPN reported late Sunday night that school legend Patrick Ewing will meet with school officials on Monday about the coaching vacancy, citing the CasualHoya.com web site. The Charlotte Hornets, where the NBA Hall of Famer is currently an assistant coach, play the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night in the nation’s capital, so it works out well.

 

Tonight’s Menu

The national championship game tips at 9:20 p.m. on CBS, with Gonzaga taking on North Carolina.

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College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

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March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

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"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
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