Cnotes March Madness Trends-Picks-News !

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  • #390229

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    [B][I]SATURDAY, APRIL 1

    GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS

    ORE at UNC 08:49 PM

    ORE +4.5

    U 153.0[/I][/B]

    #390446

    cnotes
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    [B][I]Gonzaga vs. North Carolina
    April 2, 2017
    [/I][/B]
    North Carolina (32-7 straight up, 19-16-3 against the spread) has spent an entire year trying to forget the heroics of Kris Jenkins, who gave Villanova its first national title since 1985 by draining a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to knock off the Tar Heels 77-74 in the finals of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. On Monday night at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., UNC can atone for last year’s gut-wrenching loss if it can beat Gonzaga in the 2017 Tourney’s finals.

    North Carolina and Gonzaga are both No. 1 seeds, but Mark Few’s program is gunning for its first national championship. Meanwhile, UNC is looking for its third national title on Roy Williams’s watch and its sixth in school history.

    As of late Sunday afternoon, most books had UNC installed as a 1.5-point favorite with a total of 154.5. The number had opened at two at most shops, while the total was 153.5 on the send-out at many spots. The money line was -130 for UNC and +110 for Gonzaga. For first-half wagers, UNC was favored by one-half point.

    Both teams were locked into dogfights Saturday in the national semifinals. The Bulldogs advanced with a 77-73 win over a gusty South Carolina squad, while North Carolina survived a debacle at the free-throw line at crunch time thanks to Kennedy Meeks’s work on the offensive glass. The Tar Heels beat Oregon by a 77-76 count, but neither winner covered the spread.

    UNC failed to cover the number as a favorite of 4.5 or five points. Gamblers supporting the ‘over’ had to check into the Heartbreak Hotel with an immensely disappointing push. Well, it just depends on when bettors wagered on the total. Many spots closed at 153, while others shut down at 152.5 or 153.5. The total had increased all week, so those who played the ‘over’ in the days before the game, indeed cashed a winner. The point, though, is nobody on the ‘over’ should’ve pushed and certainly shouldn’t have taken an ‘L.’

    With 5.8 seconds remaining and UNC clinging to a 77-76 lead, Meeks missed a pair of free throws, but Theo Pinson batted the rebound out toward halfcourt where Joel Berry gathered it and was fouled with four ticks left. Berry would miss both FTS, too, but Oregon couldn’t grab the board once again. This time, it was the hero of the night, Meeks, who bullied his way toward the offensive rebound. He immediately threw the ball out and the Ducks didn’t even get a chance to foul again before the clock dripped to zero.

    Meeks stole the show with 25 points, 14 rebounds, three steals, one blocked shot and one assist without a turnover. He made 11-of-13 shots from the field and finished with eight of UNC’s 16 offensive boards.

    Justin Jackson enjoyed another outstanding performance, scoring 22 points in 38 minutes of playing time. He had two rebounds, two steals, two assists and one block. Jackson, the ACC Player of the Year who averages 18.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists, hit 4-of-9 attempts from 3-point land.

    Pinson had an off shooting night, but he played an excellent floor game. Pinson had eight points, eight rebounds and five assists compared to only one turnover. Williams has to be concerned about the play of his junior point guard Berry, who simply isn’t playing at 100 percent due to an ankle injury. Berry logged 35 minutes of action against Oregon, but he produced just 11 points, three rebounds and had the same amount of turnover as assists (two apiece). He was an abysmal 2-of-14 from the field, 2-of-8 from downtown and 5-of-9 from the FT line.

    Berry averages 14.5 points, 3.6 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. However, he has scored 11 points or fewer in four of five Tournament games. In UNC’s last four outings, Berry has more turnovers (eight) than assists (seven).

    North Carolina leads the nation on offensive rebounds, collecting 15.8 per game. But those won’t be easy to come by against a Gonzaga team that has three seven-footers and five players who stand 6’10” or taller.

    UNC has been a single-digit ‘chalk’ 18 times this year, posting a 9-7-2 spread record. The Tar Heels are ranked 12th in the country in scoring, averaging 84.8 points per game.

    Gonzaga (37-1 SU, 23-10 ATS) is one of the nation’s best defensive teams, ranking second in field-goal percentage defense (36.5%), fifth at defending the 3-point line (29.4%) and seventh in scoring (61.2 PPG). Hell, even opponents struggle to make FTs against the ‘Zags (66.1%).

    Gonzaga has it all – size, balance, experience, athleticism, scorers and defenders. And that’s why it has only tasted defeat once, although we all know UNC faced a schedule that was considerably tougher by an extremely wide margin. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs are perfect in the 11 games played against teams that made the NCAA field.

    Those victims include Florida (in Orlando), Iowa State (neutral court), Arizona, St. Mary’s (three times) and its five foes during the Tournament. Few’s team has taken out South Dakota State, Northwestern, West Virginia, Xavier and South Carolina. They took their lone loss at home to BYU when the Cougars, who made the NIT, rallied from a double-digit deficit to pull the stunner as double-digit underdogs.

    With Saturday’s victory over the Gamecocks, Gonzaga became only the fourth team to enter the national-title game with just one loss since 1975. Also, the Bulldogs became the first entrant into the finals from the WCC since the legendary Bill Russell led the San Francisco Dons to back-to-back national titles in 1955 and 1956.

    There was nothing easy about getting past Frank Martin’s team. Gonzaga shot the lights out in the first half en route to a 45-36 lead at intermission. The ‘Zags would extend the lead to 14 and seemed to be in cruise control with a 65-51 advantage with 10:55 remaining.

    Martin’s team had rallied from halftime deficits in three of its four Tournament wins to get to the national semifinals for the first time in school history. USC wasn’t going to go away quietly. Chris Silva made a 3-point play the hard way to spark a 16-0 run that gave the Gamecocks the lead, albeit briefly.

    Gonzaga responded with a 7-0 run of its own. Zach Collins, the freshman center who could be lottery pick if he turns pro early, ignited the surge with a 3-pointer. Collins would finish with 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots.

    Nevertheless, South Carolina had a chance to tie down by three when it took possession with 12 seconds left. But Few had Josh Perkins purposefully foul Sindarius Thornwell before he got into a shooting motion with 3.5 ticks remaining. Thornwell made his first FT before missing the second on purpose. Killian Tillie gathered the rebound and was fouled. He then hit both ends of the one-and-one to put the Gamecocks away.

    Nigel Williams-Goss led the way for the winners with 23 points, six assists and five rebounds. Przemek Karnowski added 13 points and five boards, while Jordan Mathews hit 4-of-8 launches from downtown for 12 points.

    Williams-Goss, the WCC Player of the Year, averages 16.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Seven Gonzaga players average at least 8.0 PPG. Karnowski is averaging 12.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, while Mathews (10.8 PPG) hits 39.2 percent of his 3-pointers. Johnathan Williams (10.2 PPG, 6.5 RPG) has 36 blocked shots and makes 59.2 percent of his FGAs, and Collins (10.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG) averages team-bests in FG percentage (65.2%) and blocks (1.7 BPG).

    Gonzaga is in its first underdog spot of the season, assuming the line holds between Sunday night and Monday’s tip.

    Few owns a 26-17 career record in the Tournament, while Williams has the second-most career wins of any active head coach. He is in the finals for the sixth time with a 75-24 record (75.8%), trailing only Mike Krzyzewski in career Tourney wins (91) and finals appearances (nine).

    These programs have met twice before. In 2006, Gonzaga won an 82-74 decision as a 7.5-point underdog at MSG in NYC. UNC exacted revenge in a big way in the South Region finals of the 2009 NCAA Tournament at FedEx Forum in Memphis, where the Tar Heels coasted to a 98-77 victory as 7.5-point ‘chalk’ behind 24 points and 10 rebounds from Tyler Hansbrough.

    The ‘under’ is 21-15-1 overall for UNC, but the ‘over’ is 4-2 in its last six outings.

    The ‘under’ is 18-17 overall for Gonzaga after cashing in seven of its last 10 contests.

    Tip-off on CBS is scheduled for Monday night at 9:20 p.m. Eastern.

    #390447

    cnotes
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    [B][I]Gonzaga, UNC preparing for title game
    April 2, 2017[/I][/B]

    GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Gonzaga and North Carolina have turned their attention toward Monday’s national championship game.

    The teams are holding news conferences and a closed practice at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday afternoon after both earned tough wins in the national semifinals the night before.

    The Zags beat South Carolina 77-73 in the first game. Then the Tar Heels beat Oregon 77-76 in the nightcap.

    Gonzaga (37-1) is in the Final Four for the first time, while North Carolina (32-7) is in the Final Four for a record 20th time. That includes last year’s run to the national championship game, where the Tar Heels lost to Villanova on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

    #390448

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    [B][I]Title Game Prop Sheet
    April 2, 2017[/I][/B]

    The 2017 Final Four continues at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on Monday with the national championship. The top two seeds remain as Gonzaga and North Carolina hook up for the title. The Bulldogs are playing for their first championship after knocking out upstart South Carolina. The Tar Heels are back in the title game for the second straight season after holding off Oregon.

    Prior to Saturday’s action, Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss was listed as the favorite to capture Most Outstanding Player honors at 7/2 (Bet $100 to win $350), as the guard is now 3/1 to win the award.

    However, he is not the favorite to pick up the honor as North Carolina standout Justin Jackson moved from 4/1 odds on Saturday to 5/2 odds (Bet $100 to win $250) on Sunday. Jackson scored 22 points in Saturday’s win over Oregon, while Kennedy Meeks put up a game-high 25 points for the Tar Heels. Meeks’ MOP odds improved from 8/1 to 7/2 odds following his clutch performance against Oregon.

    Below are the props for Monday’s showdown, courtesy of Sportsbook.ag.

    [B]Most Outstanding Player[/B]

    Justin Jackson (North Carolina) 5/2
    Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga) 3/1
    Kennedy Meeks (North Carolina) 7/2
    Joel Berry II (North Carolina) 6/1
    Johnathan Williams (Gonzaga) 10/1
    Przemek Karnowski (Gonzaga) 10/1
    Zach Collins (Gonzaga) 10/1
    Jordan Mathews (Gonzaga) 20/1
    Theo Pinson (North Carolina) 20/1
    Isaiah Hicks (North Carolina) 25/1

    [B]Margin of Victory[/B]

    Gonzaga Win By 1-3 Pts — 6/1
    Gonzaga Win By 4-6 Pts — 9/1
    Gonzaga Win By 7-9 Pts — 10/1
    Gonzaga Win By 10-12 Pts — 15/1
    Gonzaga Win By 13-15 Pts — 18/1
    Gonzaga Win By 16-18 Pts — 20/1
    Gonzaga Win By 19-21 Pts — 25/1
    Gonzaga Win By 22 Pts or More — 15/1

    UNC Win By 1-3 Pts — 11/2
    UNC Win By 4-6 Pts — 7/1
    UNC Win By 7-9 Pts — 8/1
    UNC Win By 10-12 Pts — 10/1
    UNC Win By 13-15 Pts — 12/1
    UNC Win By 16-18 Pts — 15/1
    UNC Win By 19-21 Pts — 18/1
    UNC Win By 22 Pts or More — 8/1

    [B]Double Result[/B]

    Gonzaga HT/ Gonzaga FT 17/10
    Gonzaga HT/ UNC FT 11/2
    Tie HT / Gonzaga FT 15/1
    Tie HT / UNC FT 15/1
    UNC HT/ Gonzaga FT 9/2
    UNC HT/ UNC FT 7/5

    [B]Player to score first
    [/B]
    Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga) 4/1
    Justin Jackson (North Carolina) 9/2
    Joel Berry II (North Carolina) 11/2
    Kennedy Meeks (North Carolina) 13/2
    Johnathan Williams (Gonzaga) 7/1
    Jordan Mathews (Gonzaga) 7/1
    Przemek Karnowski (Gonzaga) 15/2
    Josh Perkins (Gonzaga) 9/1
    Isaiah Hicks (North Carolina) 10/1
    Theo Pinson (North Carolina) 12/1

    [B]Player to hit first three-pointer[/B]

    Justin Jackson (North Carolina) 7/2
    Joel Berry II (North Carolina) 11/4
    Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga) 4/1
    Jordan Mathews (Gonzaga) 13/4
    Josh Perkins (Gonzaga) 11/2
    Field (Any Other Player) 13/2
    Johnathan Williams (Gonzaga) 17/2
    Kenny Williams (North Carolina) 10/1

    #390449

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    [B][I]Tar Heels hoping Hicks can turn things around in NCAA final
    April 2, 2017[/I][/B]

    GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) His shots aren’t falling in the NCAA Tournament, neither from the paint nor from the foul line. His rebounds are down. And North Carolina’s Isaiah Hicks just hasn’t looked much like the reliable every-game senior starter he’s been all year.

    The Tar Heels can’t afford that to continue into the final night of the season, not if they want to beat Gonzaga in Monday’s national championship game and win the title that slipped away a year earlier.

    ”I wouldn’t say I’m very frustrated or anything because I feel like I’m out there just trying,” Hicks said Sunday. ”I feel like when you try and it doesn’t go well, just keep trying.”

    Still, it’s been an abrupt fade at the worst possible time for the 6-foot-9 forward with the Tar Heels (32-7) on the doorstep of their season-long goal to win the championship that got away during last year’s crushing title-game loss to Villanova.

    Hicks had partnered all year with fellow senior Kennedy Meeks to form a complementary scoring tandem behind Associated Press All-American Justin Jackson and Joel Berry II on the perimeter, a key to coach Roy Williams’ philosophy of building a balanced offense. After scoring 17 points in a 1-vs-16 romp against Texas Southern to open the NCAA South Region, Hicks was averaging 12.5 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 61 percent from the field and nearly 82 percent from the foul line.

    In four games since, Hicks is averaging 6.0 points and 2.8 rebounds while making 9 of 29 shots (31 percent) and 6 of 13 free throws (46 percent).

    This is the same player Williams trusted enough to put on the court with UNC trying to defend Villanova’s final shot in last year’s title game. Now the Hall of Famer needs Hicks to regroup and help counter 1-seed Gonzaga (37-1) with its frontcourt of 7-1 fifth-year senior Przemek Karnowski, 6-9 redshirt junior Johnathan Williams and 7-foot freshman Zach Collins.

    ”I would say I’m not handling him very well because I’m not changing it so far,” Williams said. ”Last night I really thought he was going to have a good game. … So it’s a tough time for him as an individual.

    ”I keep trying to tell him, I believe in him, I trust him, I’m going to keep putting you out here. I’ve said many times I’m not the smartest but I’m not the dumbest guy, so if I keep putting you out there, I must have more confidence in you than you have in yourself. Hopefully things will change Monday night.”

    The most frequent concern about Hicks has typically been whether he’d have one of those foul-magnet nights – sometimes by being too aggressive, other times by seemingly having bad luck on ticky-tack calls – that sent him to the bench.

    But the problems have crept into Hicks’ game itself. They were all on display Saturday night against Oregon in the national semifinals, with Hicks looking indecisive while managing two points on 1-for-12 shooting – with a couple of shots swatted near the rim – with three rebounds in 20 minutes. He also played through a left thigh contusion suffered when he took a knee on a first-half drive.

    Hicks said his confidence is fine and he’s not pressing.

    ”It won’t keep him down,” Meeks said. ”He’ll be like, `Everything’s fine.”’

    It was hard to imagine this when Hicks had 21 points and nine rebounds in the regular-season finale against Duke, followed by two straight 19-point showings in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. But he was a no-show for much of the second-round NCAA game against Arkansas before scoring six points during the Tar Heels’ game-closing 12-0 run to rally from 65-60 down late.

    He fouled out in just 17 minutes against Butler in the Sweet 16 then played 20 minutes without getting a rebound against Kentucky in the Elite Eight. And that’s what led Williams to play sophomore reserve Luke Maye, who responded with two huge games and the last-second shot that lifted the Tar Heels past the Wildcats for a record 20th Final Four.

    The good news for UNC is it has kept winning – maybe surviving is a better word – despite Hicks’ struggles. That might not happen Monday if Hicks can’t solve the riddle of what’s gone wrong.

    ”I don’t think any of us are worried about Isaiah really,” fellow senior Nate Britt said. ”We’ll expect him to have a big game and Coach has even said that. We still really haven’t had a game in this tournament where everyone, our whole team, has played a pretty good game collectively. So why not do it in this game right here?”

    **************************

    [B][I]Gonzaga rides swarming defense into NCAA championship game
    April 2, 2017[/I][/B]

    GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Gonzaga swingman Johnathan Williams bumped and bruised Sindarius Thornwell throughout the Final Four, shadowing his every step, preventing the South Carolina star from getting the ball, much less a good shot.

    The same scenario played out a week earlier in the Sweet 16, only it was Nigel Williams-Goss hounding Jevon Carter, preventing West Virginia’s best player from getting a good look with the game on the line.

    Once known only for their proficient offense, the Zags have added a dose of gritty defense anchored by two 7-footers, a combination that has put them within reach of the program’s first national championship. Gonzaga faces North Carolina in the title game on Monday night.

    ”It starts with our rim protection and our versatility,” Gonzaga guard Jordan Mathews said. ”All of our guards can switch onto different guys. What makes us special is our ability to contest on every shot.”

    Defense has always been the element that has held Gonzaga back.

    A fire-on-all-cylinders offense helped lead the Zags to 19 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, eight times to the Sweet 16. But as they climbed farther into the bracket, the ability to get stops on defense often led to their demise.

    That changed this season.

    With the two 7-footers guarding the rim and a swarm of versatile, athletic perimeter players, Gonzaga now has the defense to complement its high-powered offense.

    The Zags finished No. 1 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency this season and have shut down team after team through the NCAA Tournament.

    Gonzaga is holding teams to 62.1 points per game in the tournament, 24 percent shooting from 3-point range and only one team – Northwestern at 41 percent – has shot better than 40 percent.

    ”To be successful in our game is about taking things away from people and they do a terrific job of taking things away,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. ”Then they’ve got that great size inside, not just size, but they’re good. And they limit you to one shot.”

    That size starts with Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga’s center.

    The 7-foot-1, 300-pound Polish big man gets his share of blocked shots, but alters so many more. Karnowski often doesn’t have to jump to block or affect a shot and posting him up is like trying to back down the Empire State Building.

    Gonzaga’s second 7-footer, freshman Zach Collins, may be the best NBA prospect left in the tournament and he doesn’t even start for the Zags. Agile and athletic, he can swoop in from seemingly nowhere to swat a shot, as he did six times in the Final Four win over South Carolina on Saturday.

    Gonzaga coach Mark Few had both of them on the floor together for stretches of the Final Four, giving Gonzaga a double last line of defense that helped shut down the Gamecocks after they made a big second-half run.

    ”Zach makes it look like you have a clear lane to the basket, but he’s right there,” Mathews said. ”The different looks we can give you and our attention to detail, too, is one of our biggest strengths.”

    Having bigs this big gives Gonzaga’s already-active perimeter defenders the freedom to play more aggressively.

    They never want to get beat, but knowing there’s a 7-footer or two waiting under the basket allows them to overplay their man and passing lanes. Gonzaga used its attacking perimeter defense to create numerous early turnovers by South Carolina while building a 14-point lead in the national semifinals.

    ”We have rim protection and I feel like I can gamble a little, though I don’t want to gamble too much,” said Williams, who often guards the opposing team’s best scorer. ”You know if you get beat, those guys in the back are there to pick you up.”

    Gonzaga’s rotation also is filled with players who can guard multiple positions, allowing the Zags to change looks or switch without worrying about mismatches.

    Against South Carolina’s Thornwell, Gonzaga started with 6-foot-4 Mathews guarding him, switched to 6-9 Williams, even had Williams-Goss, their point guard, on him at times. The Zags used their quickness to effectively deny Thornwell the ball and alternated between trailing him on screens, fighting over screens and switching.

    Thornwell, the tournament’s leading scorer at 26 points per game to that point, had 15 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

    Against West Virginia, Carter almost singlehandedly kept the Mountaineers in it, hitting one difficult shot after another. In the chaotic closing seconds, Williams-Goss was practically in Carter’s jersey as he dribbled around trying to get off a tying 3-pointer. He missed two shots and the clock expired before West Virginia could get another off after a double team by Williams forced Carter to give the ball up.

    ”Sometimes our defense, it has kind of a cumulative effect on you,” Few said.

    It has all season, putting the Zags on the cusp of history.

    ****************************

    [B][I]NCAA Championship a matchup for big men
    April 2, 2017[/I][/B]

    GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) If you like watching basketball played with big men in the middle, the NCAA Tournament championship game will be a can’t-miss event.

    Gonzaga’s Przemek Karnowski, who weighs in at 7-foot-1 and 300 pounds, will go head-to-head on Monday night with North Carolina’s Kennedy Meeks, who enters the game at 6-10 and 260 pounds.

    ”A type of guy kind of like me, going back to the basket more so than facing up or going to the 3-point line,” Karnowski said of Meeks, a fellow senior.

    Meeks said he ”likes playing physical, honestly. I feel like I have to do a really good job of running the court, posting up hard, trying to draw fouls.”

    Both big men have quality backups.

    Karnowski can be spelled or play with freshman Zach Collins , who had a great game in the semifinal win over South Carolina with 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks.

    North Carolina comes off the bench with 6-9 senior Isaiah Hicks and 6-11 freshman Tony Bradley.

    Meeks has been a force of late posting seven points and 17 rebounds in the regional final against Kentucky and 25 points and 14 rebounds in the Final Four win over Oregon.

    ”I pushed him last night, took him out for 3 or 4 minutes, didn’t like one thing he was doing,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said Sunday. ”But keep pushing him, keep pushing him, keep pushing him. … He’s just a lovable, big Teddy bear.”

    Gonzaga coach Mark Few breaks down the big man matchup rather easily.

    ”To stay out of foul trouble is the first thing,” Few said. ”I think both these teams are probably facing for the first time depth that mirrors each other inside, but also a willingness to just keep going and going in there whether it’s off the pass or even off of offensive rebounds to generate a lot of offense inside out.”

    Karnowski said he’s glad to face a fellow big man rather than the smaller centers of the teams in the West Coast Conference. Meeks faced a big front line in Florida State but they didn’t have the weight of Gonzaga’s bigs.

    ”I think it’s going to be a lot of big bodies hitting around,” said Karnowski, a native of Poland who has faced quality big men as the center for the national team. ”He’s a big guy like me. He likes to play it back to the basket a lot. So, obviously I’ll try to stop him from going to his moves.”

    Karnowski missed the final five minutes of the first half against South Carolina when his right eye was scratched. He returned for the second half and said Sunday he was fine.

    North Carolina leads the nation with 15.7 offensive rebounds per game.

    ”We’ve got to block them out,” Few said. ”We faced a really good offensive rebounding team in South Carolina. West Virginia was an excellent rebounding team. Their percentages were very high and a lot of their offense generated from that. But I mean Carolina is just a different entity from that.”

    Meeks said the Tar Heels know what they need to do against the Zags’ bigs.

    ”I just think making them work hard for the ball is the biggest thing,” he said. ”Those guys are great at backing guys down and good at making the shots and making angles. I’d say the biggest thing we’ll focus on is trying to eliminate them from getting as many post touches as possible.’

    #390450

    cnotes
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    [B][I]Monday’s six-pack[/I][/B]

    Prop bets for tonight’s national championship game:

    — points scored by Luke Maye: over/under 6.5

    — points scored by Joel Berry: over/under 14.5

    — points scored by Jonathan Williams: over/under 9.5

    — points scored by Zach Collins: over/under 9.5

    — points scored in first half by Gonzaga: over/under 36

    — points scored in first half by North Carolina: over/under 36.5

    ************************
    [B][I]
    Monday’s List of 13: Happy Opening Day!!![/I][/B]

    13) Diamondbacks 6, Giants 5— SF bullpen blew two saves on Opening Day, ruining a great day by Madison Bumgarner, who struck out 11 and homered twice, the first pitcher ever to do that on Opening Day.

    12) Sat next to a guy Friday night who bet Mississippi State on the money line against UConn in the girls’ basketball semifinals. He put $10 on a parlay with MSU and South Carolina and he pocketed $345. He is a good guy and was excited; takes onions to bet against UConn.

    11) Some genius at a William Hill sports book risked $7,000 to win $100 making the exact opposite bet, taking UConn on the money line. I’m sure he assumed it was an easy $100, but he was wrong, with a capital W.

    If someone ever writes a book on how NOT to gamble, this should be in Chapter 1.

    10) Watched the second half of the game without sound in the SouthPoint sports book; ESPN kept showing this guy cheering wildly for Miss State, I’m assuming it is a player’s husband, brother or boyfriend- turns out it was Dak Prescott, the Cowboys’ QB/Miss State alum. He was excited, even moreso than the guy who won $335 on the parlay.

    9) If you’re in Las Vegas, the sports book here at South Point is excellent, I’d rank it #2 in town behind the Westgate, but the food options are better here and the hotel is nicer.

    8) San Diego Padres are apparently starting the season with three Rule 5 players on their roster; those are minor leaguers plucked from other teams, but they have to stay in the majors all year or get offered back to their original team. Basically, they’re prospects who aren’t ready yet.

    ESPN’s Keith Law says the only other team to carry three Rule 5 guys in one year were the 2003 Tigers, who went 43-119, but were in the playoffs three years later.

    7) Colorado Rockies start season with seven guys on the DL, which seems excessive even for baseball, where guys drop like flies.

    6) TV ratings for the Final Four Saturday were a huge success; much better games than last year. Gonzaga-UNC game figures to get good ratings, too.

    5) San Antonio Spurs have had a winning road record 20 years in a row, which is remarkable.

    4) If they ever make a movie about Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder, Andrew McCarthy has to play Snyder- they look so much alike they could be brothers.

    3) College hoop referee Ted Valentine worked his 10th Final Four Saturday, but his first since 2010; does that make him Comeback Ref of the Year?

    2) Youngest teams in the major leagues? Cincinnati Reds, then the Padres.

    1— Madison Bumgarner has 16 career homers, most of any active pitcher; he has hit two HR’s off of two pitchers— Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Not bad.

    Happy Opening Day, everyone!!!!

    #390451

    cnotes
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    [B][I]National title game, Glendale, AZ- Monday

    Last three national title games had similar small spreads to tonight; underdogs won all three. North Carolina lost the national title game at the buzzer last year; they’ve waited a year for tonight, but PG Berry has a bum ankle and isn’t near 100% (2-14 from floor vs Oregon, 6-26 in last two games). Tar Heels are 17-2 outside the ACC, losing to Indiana-Kentucky in December. Gonzaga’s only loss was to BYU at home on Senior Night; Bulldogs are 7-0 vs top 20 teams, with wins over Florida/Iowa St/Arizona- they’re #134 experience team that plays pace #77. Carolina is #107 experience team that plays pace #42. UNC is #1 offensive rebounding team in country (41.7% of their misses) but Zags are #47 in country on defensive boards. My pick? North Carolina by 5 and the over.[/I][/B]

    #390597

    cnotes
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    [B][SIZE=5]NCAAB[/SIZE]
    Dunkel

    Monday, April 3[/B]

    [B]North Carolina @ Gonzaga[/B]

    Game 601-602
    April 3, 2017 @ 9:20 pm

    Dunkel Rating:
    North Carolina
    77.449
    Gonzaga
    79.329
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Gonzaga
    by 2
    158
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    North Carolina
    by 2
    153 1/2
    [B]Dunkel Pick:
    Gonzaga
    (+2); Over[/B]

    [B][SIZE=”5″]NCAAB[/SIZE]
    Long Sheet

    Monday, April 3[/B]

    ——————————————————————————–

    [B]N CAROLINA (32 – 7) vs. GONZAGA (37 – 1) – 4/3/2017, 9:20 PM [/B]
    Top Trends for this game.
    N CAROLINA is 3-11 ATS (-9.1 Units) in road games versus good offensive teams – scoring 77+ points/game after 15+ games over the last 2 seasons.
    N CAROLINA is 7-16 ATS (-10.6 Units) in road games versus good offensive teams – scoring 77+ points/game over the last 2 seasons.
    GONZAGA is 23-10 ATS (+12.0 Units) in all games this season.
    GONZAGA is 23-10 ATS (+12.0 Units) in all lined games this season.
    GONZAGA is 58-38 ATS (+16.2 Units) as an underdog since 1997.
    GONZAGA is 145-104 ATS (+30.6 Units) when playing with one or less days rest since 1997.
    GONZAGA is 16-6 ATS (+9.4 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record this season.
    N CAROLINA is 293-241 ATS (+27.9 Units) as a favorite since 1997.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.

    ——————————————————————————–

    [B][SIZE=”5″]NCAAB[/SIZE]
    Armadillo’s Write-Up

    Monday, April 3[/B]

    Last three national title games had similar small spreads to tonight; underdogs won all three. North Carolina lost the national title game at the buzzer last year; they’ve waited a year for tonight, but PG Berry has a bum ankle and isn’t near 100% (2-14 from floor vs Oregon, 6-26 in last two games). Tar Heels are 17-2 outside the ACC, losing to Indiana-Kentucky in December. Gonzaga’s only loss was to BYU at home on Senior Night; Bulldogs are 7-0 vs top 20 teams, with wins over Florida/Iowa St/Arizona- they’re #134 experience team that plays pace #77. Carolina is #107 experience team that plays pace #42. UNC is #1 offensive rebounding team in country (41.7% of their misses) but Zags are #47 in country on defensive boards. My pick? North Carolina by 5 and the over.

    [B][SIZE=”5″]NCAAB[/SIZE]

    Monday, April 3[/B]

    ————————————————————————————————————————
    [SIZE=”3″][B][I][B] Trend Report [/B][/I][/B][/SIZE]
    ————————————————————————————————————————

    9:20 PM
    [B]GONZAGA vs. NORTH CAROLINA[/B]
    No trends available
    North Carolina is 2-3-1 ATS in its last 6 games
    North Carolina is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games

    #390598

    cnotes
    Member
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    [B][SIZE=”5″]NCAAB[/SIZE]

    Monday, April 3[/B]

    ————————————————————————————————————————
    [SIZE=”3″][B][I][B] NCAA Tournament Championship Game betting preview and odds: Gonzaga vs North Carolina [/B][/I][/B][/SIZE]
    ————————————————————————————————————————

    [I] “37 wins in a college season, I mean that’s just unbelievable. And to be playing the last game of the season, we have a chance to play for it all and we’re here to win it.”[/I]

    [B](1) Gonzaga Bulldogs vs (1) North Carolina Tar Heels (-1.5, 153.5)[/B]

    [I]Game to be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.[/I]

    Gonzaga is in uncharted territory while North Carolina aims to make up for last season’s NCAA championship game loss when the two No. 1 seeds collide on Monday in Glendale, Ariz. The Bulldogs are in the title game for the first time in school history while the Tar Heels, who lost to Villanova last season, are looking to win their sixth national crown.

    North Carolina suffered a 77-74 loss last season when Villanova’s Kris Jenkins drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer and the players have been constantly reminded of the fact during their NCAA Tournament run. “I think you’re always going to have that in the back of your mind because it was a heartbreaking experience for us,” said senior center Kennedy Meeks, who matched his career high of 25 points and collected 14 rebounds in Saturday’s 77-76 victory over Oregon. Gonzaga regularly hears a different refrain that suggests they aren’t a championship-caliber squad due to playing in the middling West Coast Conference. “I think the respect thing has to go out the window,” junior point guard Nigel Williams-Goss said after scoring 23 points in Saturday’s 77-73 win over South Carolina. “You have 37 wins in a college season, I mean that’s just unbelievable. And to be playing the last game of the season, we have a chance to play for it all and we’re here to win it.”
    [B]
    TV:[/B] 9:20 p.m. ET, CBS
    [B]
    LINE HISTORY:[/B] North Carolina opened as two-point favorites but that line was quickly adjusted downward to 1.5 late Saturday night. The total hit the board at 153.5 and has yet to move.
    [B]
    WHAT BOOKS SAY:[/B] “Gonzaga defined the ‘Cinderella’ mantra of college basketball, and it will always be the first to wear the glass slipper,” Cooley said. “But that doesn’t change the fact that to the public, the Zags appear overmatched against the greatest program of all time. We anticipate action on the over, but hopefully the public action will be split on the spread.” – Scott Cooley, odds consultant for offshore sportsbook Bookmaker.eu.
    [B]
    ABOUT GONZAGA (37-1 SU, 23-10-2 ATS, 17-18 O/U):[/B] Backup freshman center Zach Collins displayed why he is the program’s top NBA prospect by contributing 14 points, 13 rebounds and a career-best six blocked shots versus South Carolina. The trio of Collins (averages of 10 points and 5.9 rebounds), senior center Przemek Karnowski (12.3 points, 5.8 rebounds) and junior power forward Johnathan Williams (10.2 points, team-best 6.5 boards) will be counted on to neutralize North Carolina’s strong interior play. Williams-Goss (team-best 16.9 points), senior shooting guard Jordan Mathews (10.8 points, team-leading 83 3-pointers) and sophomore guard Josh Perkins (eight points per game) have combined for 130 of the Bulldogs’ 263 steals.
    [B]
    ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (32-7 SU, 18-16-3 ATS, 15-21-1 O/U):[/B] Meeks has been a beast on the boards with a 13.3 rebounding average over the past four games and he is averaging 12.7 points and a team-leading 9.4 rebounds and is a big reason why the Tar Heels boast the best rebounding margin (12.7) in the country. Junior forward Justin Jackson leads the Tar Heels in scoring (18.3) and 3-pointers (105) and he has recorded three 20-point outings in the tourney, including 22 points against Oregon. Junior point guard Joel Berry II (14.5 points) is playing through two sprained ankles – he was just 2-of-14 shooting against the Ducks – while senior forward Isaiah Hicks (11.8) also averages in double digits.
    [B]
    TRENDS:[/B]

    * Bulldogs are 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 NCAA Tournament games.
    * Tar Heels are 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 games as a favorite of 0.5-6.5.
    * Under is 10-1 in Bulldogs last 11 games as an underdog of 0.5-6.5.
    * Over is 6-1 in Tar Heels last 7 NCAA Tournament games as a favorite of 0.5-6.5.
    [B]
    CONSENSUS:[/B] 58 percent of users are taking the points with the Gonzaga Bulldogs and the Over is picking up 69 percent of the totals wagers.

    #390607

    cnotes
    Member
    • Author

    [B][I]Some things to watch in the NCAA championship game
    April 3, 2017[/I][/B]

    GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Some things to watch for in Monday night’s NCAA championship game:

    [B]IN THE MIDDLE[/B]

    Both teams have size in the middle and quality depth at the position.

    Gonzaga’s 7-foot-1, 300-pound Przemek Karnowski will go at North Carolina’s 6-10, 260-pound Kennedy Meeks.

    Meeks has been playing really well in the tournament, getting seven points and 17 rebounds in the regional final against Kentucky and then scoring 25 points with 14 rebounds in the Final Four win over Oregon. He is averaging a career-high 9.4 rebounds this season.

    Zach Collins, a 7-foot freshman, backs up Karnowski and he had 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks against South Carolina in the national semifinal.

    North Carolina’s reserves up front include 6-9 senior Isaiah Hicks and 6-11 freshman Tony Bradley.

    [B]MISSED SHOTS[/B]

    North Carolina’s most effective offensive weapon is a made field goal. Second, is its misses. The Tar Heels average 15.8 offensive rebounds per game, tops in the nation. They have scored 20 or more second-chance points 16 times this season and they won all of those games.

    Gonzaga averages 9.7 offensive rebounds per game.


    [B]
    DEFENSE[/B]

    Gonzaga allows 61.2 points per game and they have stayed at the number for the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs allow teams to shoot just 36.5 percent, 29.5 percent from 3-point range.

    ”They change their defenses a little but not much. They’re mostly a man-to-man team,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said.

    North Carolina will present a different problem for the Zags.

    ”The biggest challenge is their transition defense,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. ”Getting back, and they’re so fast and so good at it.”


    [B]
    ON THE SIDELINE[/B]

    North Carolina’s Roy Williams is in his ninth Final Four and fourth championship game, two of which were titles in 2005 and `09. The Tar Heels were in the title game last year and lost on a buzzer-beater to Villanova.

    Gonzaga’s Mark Few is a rookie in Final Fours and title games. He has taken the Zags to the NCAA Tournament all 18 years he’s been there.

    ”I think experience takes care of some of this stuff,” Williams said at Sunday’s media event. ”But when the game starts, nobody cares how long these guys had to sit at a press conference. …

    ”That’s the bottom line. And we’ve played some teams before that I thought we could win nine out of 10. But the national championship game, it’s only one.”

    [B]IN RESERVE[/B]

    Both teams have quality players coming off the bench and they are capable of being that championship game star.

    Gonzaga has 7-foot freshman Zach Collins, who had 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks in the Final Four win over South Carolina. Silas Melson is the first backcourt reserve and he had six points, four rebounds and three assists against the Gamecocks. He was 2 for 3 from 3-point range, where he shot 38.9 percent this season.

    North Carolina has three reserves averaging at least 5.0 points per game in the tournament. That starts with Luke Maye, whose 10.4 average includes the winning jumper against Kentucky in the regional final.

    Tony Bradley, a freshman big man, is averaging 5.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in the tournament while guard Nate Britt averages 5.2 points and is tied for second in assists with 10.

    #390613

    cnotes
    Member
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    [B][I]Title or money? The give-and-take of one-and-done in hoops
    April 3, 2017[/I][/B]

    GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The teenager who plays hoops for a year in college and then leaves for the NBA used to be part novelty, part nuisance.

    These days, it’s as common as a 3-pointer and as acceptable as your office bracket pool.

    Once the domain of Kentucky, Duke and few other select schools, the so-called one-and-dones now come from all over the country.

    The run on freshmen in the 2017 NBA draft has the potential to go a dozen deep before an upperclassmen’s name is called. They’ll come from Tobacco Road at Duke and the Great Northwest in Washington. Only one of the dozen-plus freshmen – Gonzaga’s 7-footer Zach Collins, if he goes – will be able to say he played for the NCAA title, but that doesn’t really stop anybody.

    ”There’s lots of different ways to build a program and build an elite program,” said Gonzaga coach Mark Few, whose team plays North Carolina in Monday night’s title game. ”You can do it through attracting the greatest talent out there, or you can do it by getting good players and develop them and get them to play together.”

    The exception of Collins aside, Few has largely bypassed the one-and-done player. But for many coaches, the prospect of quick success is too tempting to resist. They look at John Calipari, who had three one-and-dones when Kentucky won the title in 2012. Or Mike Krzyzewski, who won it all in 2015 with three freshmen on his Duke team.

    But blue-chippers do not come with guarantees.

    ”It’s the balance of talent with running a program,” says Saint Joseph’s veteran coach, Phil Martelli. ”To me, when those guys sit down and they have to make a decision on a guy, they’re asking, Does the talent and what it brings balance with running a program, or running a team?' Sometimes with one-and-dones you say,OK, I got this guy. I have a team.”’

    Others find themselves searching for a new team altogether.

    Lorenzo Romar brought two one-and-dones into his program at Washington – Marquese Chriss from last year and this year’s potential first pick, Markelle Fultz. He didn’t get to the NCAA Tournament with either and got fired last month.

    Mark Gottfried had a potential top-10 guy in this year’s draft, Dennis Smith, at North Carolina State. He, too, is looking for work.

    Johnny Jones brought last year’s first pick, Ben Simmons, to LSU. Jones got fired, too.

    ”Coaches are at risk because recruiting has become bigger than life,” Martelli said. ”So, when you get one of those guys, then you’re expected to do what Jahlil Okafor did (with the 2015 Duke team). Okafor was a one-and-done and he and Justise Winslow won a championship. But not everyone can win a championship.”

    Krzyzewski coaxed Okafor and Winslow to the title in 2015 after Calipari’s freshmen-laden team saw its hopes for an undefeated season vanquished in the national semifinals at the hands of Wisconsin, which goes about winning in a very different way.

    Badgers coach Greg Gard, an assistant on that 2015 staff, doesn’t see his formula changing anytime soon.

    ”There are a lot of components that go into making this school a one-and-done school and that school not a one-and-done school,” he said. ”What’s the history and tradition in the program? Does it make sense for that program? We’re relatively young in terms of this.”

    For the few who manage to figure it out, though, it is worth the risk. Calipari, better than anyone, has mastered the art of literally restocking the roster every year.

    It makes it more difficult to coach. It also keeps the Wildcats in the conversation, year in and year out.

    The coach, who first proved one-and-done could work with Derrick Rose at Memphis, is among the few who acknowledge the realities of the college game: It is a business driven by talented teenagers, many of whom come from poor families. They see the NBA, not a college degree, as their way out.

    ”They’ve been given something that’s going to (allow them) to do things for themselves and their families and their communities and get involved,” Calipari said. ”I don’t take that lightly.”

    The biggest misconception about one-and-done is that it’s the coaches who cooked up this get-rich-quick scheme. In reality, it’s a product of the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players. In 2005, they implemented a rule that prohibited players from being drafted unless they were 19 years old or at least a year out of high school.

    If NBA commissioner Adam Silver had his way, the minimum age would be raised to 20, which would essentially require two years in college.

    For now, though, nothing is changing, and though the NCAA frets about the rule in public, it’s happy with the product it delivers when the lights are brightest.

    This year’s tournament is the second-most watched in 23 years.

    ”I don’t know that freshmen have as big an impact on the tournament as they do in the season,” said Dan Gavitt, the NCAA executive in charge of the tournament. ”But it’s certainly a concern. You want young people to have as rich an academic experience as possible for as long as possible. The longer it can be, the healthier that will be for them.”

    #390615

    cnotes
    Member
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    [B][I]Gonzaga rides swarming defense into NCAA championship game
    April 2, 2017[/I][/B]

    GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Gonzaga swingman Johnathan Williams bumped and bruised Sindarius Thornwell throughout the Final Four, shadowing his every step, preventing the South Carolina star from getting the ball, much less a good shot.

    The same scenario played out a week earlier in the Sweet 16, only it was Nigel Williams-Goss hounding Jevon Carter, preventing West Virginia’s best player from getting a good look with the game on the line.

    Once known only for their proficient offense, the Zags have added a dose of gritty defense anchored by two 7-footers, a combination that has put them within reach of the program’s first national championship. Gonzaga faces North Carolina in the title game on Monday night.

    ”It starts with our rim protection and our versatility,” Gonzaga guard Jordan Mathews said. ”All of our guards can switch onto different guys. What makes us special is our ability to contest on every shot.”

    Defense has always been the element that has held Gonzaga back.

    A fire-on-all-cylinders offense helped lead the Zags to 19 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament, eight times to the Sweet 16. But as they climbed farther into the bracket, the ability to get stops on defense often led to their demise.

    That changed this season.

    With the two 7-footers guarding the rim and a swarm of versatile, athletic perimeter players, Gonzaga now has the defense to complement its high-powered offense.

    The Zags finished No. 1 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency this season and have shut down team after team through the NCAA Tournament.

    Gonzaga is holding teams to 62.1 points per game in the tournament, 24 percent shooting from 3-point range and only one team – Northwestern at 41 percent – has shot better than 40 percent.

    ”To be successful in our game is about taking things away from people and they do a terrific job of taking things away,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. ”Then they’ve got that great size inside, not just size, but they’re good. And they limit you to one shot.”

    That size starts with Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga’s center.

    The 7-foot-1, 300-pound Polish big man gets his share of blocked shots, but alters so many more. Karnowski often doesn’t have to jump to block or affect a shot and posting him up is like trying to back down the Empire State Building.

    Gonzaga’s second 7-footer, freshman Zach Collins, may be the best NBA prospect left in the tournament and he doesn’t even start for the Zags. Agile and athletic, he can swoop in from seemingly nowhere to swat a shot, as he did six times in the Final Four win over South Carolina on Saturday.

    Gonzaga coach Mark Few had both of them on the floor together for stretches of the Final Four, giving Gonzaga a double last line of defense that helped shut down the Gamecocks after they made a big second-half run.

    ”Zach makes it look like you have a clear lane to the basket, but he’s right there,” Mathews said. ”The different looks we can give you and our attention to detail, too, is one of our biggest strengths.”

    Having bigs this big gives Gonzaga’s already-active perimeter defenders the freedom to play more aggressively.

    They never want to get beat, but knowing there’s a 7-footer or two waiting under the basket allows them to overplay their man and passing lanes. Gonzaga used its attacking perimeter defense to create numerous early turnovers by South Carolina while building a 14-point lead in the national semifinals.

    ”We have rim protection and I feel like I can gamble a little, though I don’t want to gamble too much,” said Williams, who often guards the opposing team’s best scorer. ”You know if you get beat, those guys in the back are there to pick you up.”

    Gonzaga’s rotation also is filled with players who can guard multiple positions, allowing the Zags to change looks or switch without worrying about mismatches.

    Against South Carolina’s Thornwell, Gonzaga started with 6-foot-4 Mathews guarding him, switched to 6-9 Williams, even had Williams-Goss, their point guard, on him at times. The Zags used their quickness to effectively deny Thornwell the ball and alternated between trailing him on screens, fighting over screens and switching.

    Thornwell, the tournament’s leading scorer at 26 points per game to that point, had 15 points on 4-of-12 shooting.

    Against West Virginia, Carter almost singlehandedly kept the Mountaineers in it, hitting one difficult shot after another. In the chaotic closing seconds, Williams-Goss was practically in Carter’s jersey as he dribbled around trying to get off a tying 3-pointer. He missed two shots and the clock expired before West Virginia could get another off after a double team by Williams forced Carter to give the ball up.

    ”Sometimes our defense, it has kind of a cumulative effect on you,” Few said.

    It has all season, putting the Zags on the cusp of history.

    #390616

    cnotes
    Member
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    [B][I]NCAA Championship a matchup for big men
    April 2, 2017[/I][/B]

    GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) If you like watching basketball played with big men in the middle, the NCAA Tournament championship game will be a can’t-miss event.

    Gonzaga’s Przemek Karnowski, who weighs in at 7-foot-1 and 300 pounds, will go head-to-head on Monday night with North Carolina’s Kennedy Meeks, who enters the game at 6-10 and 260 pounds.

    ”A type of guy kind of like me, going back to the basket more so than facing up or going to the 3-point line,” Karnowski said of Meeks, a fellow senior.

    Meeks said he ”likes playing physical, honestly. I feel like I have to do a really good job of running the court, posting up hard, trying to draw fouls.”

    Both big men have quality backups.

    Karnowski can be spelled or play with freshman Zach Collins , who had a great game in the semifinal win over South Carolina with 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks.

    North Carolina comes off the bench with 6-9 senior Isaiah Hicks and 6-11 freshman Tony Bradley.

    Meeks has been a force of late posting seven points and 17 rebounds in the regional final against Kentucky and 25 points and 14 rebounds in the Final Four win over Oregon.

    ”I pushed him last night, took him out for 3 or 4 minutes, didn’t like one thing he was doing,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said Sunday. ”But keep pushing him, keep pushing him, keep pushing him. … He’s just a lovable, big Teddy bear.”

    Gonzaga coach Mark Few breaks down the big man matchup rather easily.

    ”To stay out of foul trouble is the first thing,” Few said. ”I think both these teams are probably facing for the first time depth that mirrors each other inside, but also a willingness to just keep going and going in there whether it’s off the pass or even off of offensive rebounds to generate a lot of offense inside out.”

    Karnowski said he’s glad to face a fellow big man rather than the smaller centers of the teams in the West Coast Conference. Meeks faced a big front line in Florida State but they didn’t have the weight of Gonzaga’s bigs.

    ”I think it’s going to be a lot of big bodies hitting around,” said Karnowski, a native of Poland who has faced quality big men as the center for the national team. ”He’s a big guy like me. He likes to play it back to the basket a lot. So, obviously I’ll try to stop him from going to his moves.”

    Karnowski missed the final five minutes of the first half against South Carolina when his right eye was scratched. He returned for the second half and said Sunday he was fine.

    North Carolina leads the nation with 15.7 offensive rebounds per game.

    ”We’ve got to block them out,” Few said. ”We faced a really good offensive rebounding team in South Carolina. West Virginia was an excellent rebounding team. Their percentages were very high and a lot of their offense generated from that. But I mean Carolina is just a different entity from that.”

    Meeks said the Tar Heels know what they need to do against the Zags’ bigs.

    ”I just think making them work hard for the ball is the biggest thing,” he said. ”Those guys are great at backing guys down and good at making the shots and making angles. I’d say the biggest thing we’ll focus on is trying to eliminate them from getting as many post touches as possible.”

    #390617

    cnotes
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    [B][I]Tar Heels hoping Hicks can turn things around in NCAA final
    April 2, 2017[/I][/B]

    GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) His shots aren’t falling in the NCAA Tournament, neither from the paint nor from the foul line. His rebounds are down. And North Carolina’s Isaiah Hicks just hasn’t looked much like the reliable every-game senior starter he’s been all year.

    The Tar Heels can’t afford that to continue into the final night of the season, not if they want to beat Gonzaga in Monday’s national championship game and win the title that slipped away a year earlier.

    ”I wouldn’t say I’m very frustrated or anything because I feel like I’m out there just trying,” Hicks said Sunday. ”I feel like when you try and it doesn’t go well, just keep trying.”

    Still, it’s been an abrupt fade at the worst possible time for the 6-foot-9 forward with the Tar Heels (32-7) on the doorstep of their season-long goal to win the championship that got away during last year’s crushing title-game loss to Villanova.

    Hicks had partnered all year with fellow senior Kennedy Meeks to form a complementary scoring tandem behind Associated Press All-American Justin Jackson and Joel Berry II on the perimeter, a key to coach Roy Williams’ philosophy of building a balanced offense. After scoring 17 points in a 1-vs-16 romp against Texas Southern to open the NCAA South Region, Hicks was averaging 12.5 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 61 percent from the field and nearly 82 percent from the foul line.

    In four games since, Hicks is averaging 6.0 points and 2.8 rebounds while making 9 of 29 shots (31 percent) and 6 of 13 free throws (46 percent).

    This is the same player Williams trusted enough to put on the court with UNC trying to defend Villanova’s final shot in last year’s title game. Now the Hall of Famer needs Hicks to regroup and help counter 1-seed Gonzaga (37-1) with its frontcourt of 7-1 fifth-year senior Przemek Karnowski, 6-9 redshirt junior Johnathan Williams and 7-foot freshman Zach Collins.

    ”I would say I’m not handling him very well because I’m not changing it so far,” Williams said. ”Last night I really thought he was going to have a good game. … So it’s a tough time for him as an individual.

    ”I keep trying to tell him, I believe in him, I trust him, I’m going to keep putting you out here. I’ve said many times I’m not the smartest but I’m not the dumbest guy, so if I keep putting you out there, I must have more confidence in you than you have in yourself. Hopefully things will change Monday night.”

    The most frequent concern about Hicks has typically been whether he’d have one of those foul-magnet nights – sometimes by being too aggressive, other times by seemingly having bad luck on ticky-tack calls – that sent him to the bench.

    But the problems have crept into Hicks’ game itself. They were all on display Saturday night against Oregon in the national semifinals, with Hicks looking indecisive while managing two points on 1-for-12 shooting – with a couple of shots swatted near the rim – with three rebounds in 20 minutes. He also played through a left thigh contusion suffered when he took a knee on a first-half drive.

    Hicks said his confidence is fine and he’s not pressing.

    ”It won’t keep him down,” Meeks said. ”He’ll be like, `Everything’s fine.”’

    It was hard to imagine this when Hicks had 21 points and nine rebounds in the regular-season finale against Duke, followed by two straight 19-point showings in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament. But he was a no-show for much of the second-round NCAA game against Arkansas before scoring six points during the Tar Heels’ game-closing 12-0 run to rally from 65-60 down late.

    He fouled out in just 17 minutes against Butler in the Sweet 16 then played 20 minutes without getting a rebound against Kentucky in the Elite Eight. And that’s what led Williams to play sophomore reserve Luke Maye, who responded with two huge games and the last-second shot that lifted the Tar Heels past the Wildcats for a record 20th Final Four.

    The good news for UNC is it has kept winning – maybe surviving is a better word – despite Hicks’ struggles. That might not happen Monday if Hicks can’t solve the riddle of what’s gone wrong.

    ”I don’t think any of us are worried about Isaiah really,” fellow senior Nate Britt said. ”We’ll expect him to have a big game and Coach has even said that. We still really haven’t had a game in this tournament where everyone, our whole team, has played a pretty good game collectively. So why not do it in this game right here?”

    #390698

    cnotes
    Member
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    [B]MONDAY, APRIL 3

    GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS

    GONZ at UNC 09:20 PM

    UNC -1.0

    U 155.0[/B]

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