On Saturday night, the Gonzaga Bulldogs travel to North Carolina to take on the Tar Heels in a blockbuster matchup between two teams who have a good shot to make the Final Four in April. Gonzaga comes in at 9-1 and is ranked number 4 in the country. North Carolina comes in at 7-2 and is ranked number 12 in the country.
Gonzaga Trying to Recover
Gonzaga is coming off their first loss of the season in an epic game against the 7th ranked Tennessee Volunteers. Gonzaga had a lead for most of the second half, but Tennessee stormed back to take a 76-73 victory. Brandon Clarke and Rui Hachimura both tallied 21 points in the game. Clarke added 9 rebounds while Hachimura brought in 8 boards. Zach Norvell scored 13 points and went just 3 of 9 from three-point range. Corey Kispert added 13 points and 9 rebounds. The Bulldogs already have a high-quality win against Duke and will look to knock another ACC powerhouse in North Carolina.
North Carolina is coming off a 97-69 blowout against NC Wilmington. Cameron Johnson led the way with 21 points. Nassir Little was the second leading scorer with 14 points, and Kenny Williams added 11 points. Luke Maye added 11 points, and 9 rebounds and Sterling Manley added 8 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. Both of UNC’s losses came against quality opponent’s, as they lost 92-89 against Texas and 84-67 against an incredible Michigan team. The Tar Heels don’t have a signature win yet but could gain one here against the 4th ranked Bulldogs.
Hachimura Leading Gonzaga
Rui Hachimura has been the man for this Gonzaga team that averages an astounding 94.1 points per game. Hachimura pours in 22.2 points a game and is shooting 56.5% from the field on the season. The defense has been solid as well, allowing only 76.3 points a game. Brandon Clarke and Zach Norvell have been the next highest scorers on the team. Clarke scores 16.9 a game and Norvell scores 17.6 a game. Clarke is the teams leading rebounder with 8.2 a game. The Bulldogs have been without superstar Killian Tillie so far this year and will get a big boost when he returns later on this season.
North Carolina has been putting up similar totals as the Bulldogs this year. The Tar Heels are scoring 93.3 points per game and allowing 73.7 a game which is just a little better than Gonzaga. Cameron Johnson has led the team in scoring with 15.7 a game. The Tar Heels have 3 other players averaging double figures. Freshman Coby White scores 15.3 a game and Nassir Little scores 12 points a game. Senior Luke Maye chips in 13.7 points a game and is the leafing rebounder with 9.4 a game.
North Carolina vs. Gonzaga Prediction
North Carolina comes in at -2.5. The Dean Smith Center will be rocking for this one as all eyes will be on this top-12 battle. Gonzaga possesses more experience than North Carolina and has leaned on that experience to pull out close victories against good competition. The Tar Heels may have more talent than Gonzaga, but the youth in their lineup hasn’t been able to put it all together against top-notch competition. I think Gonzaga’s experience will be able to handle the atmosphere with ease. Take Gonzaga +2.5 in a game that should come down to the wire.
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