Zags to Put up Their First NCAAB National Championship Banner

Gonzaga Bulldogs mascot

Mark Lathrop

Monday, April 3, 2017 1:51 PM GMT

Our expert college basketball handicapper whiffed on his Final Four angles, but you could say he was happy with the outcomes otherwise. Here he explains why he can't change his mind with Gonzaga as his pick to take it all.

What a great set of Final Four games on Saturday, as both games went down to the wire with the underdogs covering in each but still losing straight up. The effect of shooting in an NFL stadium was also subdued, as both games went Over their listed totals – with Gonzaga and South Carolina flying over their closing total line of 138 by 12 points. My first half team total Under calls were total losers, although North Carolina scored 17 points in the last three and a half minutes of their game against Oregon to keep me from breaking even on the day.

 

Gonzaga Bulldogs vs North Carolina Tar Heels  

I live about 30 minutes from the Gonzaga campus, and I can tell you that it is absolute pandemonium here. Leading news on the local television station on Saturday night was “Gonzaga Students Burn Couch”. No work will get done tomorrow, folks will be calling in sick to prepare for viewing parties, and some poor gluten intolerant GU student will get a stomach ache because all there is at this party is pizza. The term “act like you’ve been here before” definitely does not apply to this area of the country right now.

In North Carolina, I’m sure it is a different story, and one I can’t relate too. This is old hat for them and if they don’t win the championship there will be another chance sooner rather than later. I don’t know if this reduces the pressure for this Tar Heel team, or increases it. Expectations can weigh on you after all.

I’ve picked Gonzaga to win this tournament from the beginning, so I’m not going to change that pick here. In this spot, we get the Bulldogs back in their familiar late March territory, as underdogs. They seem to relish these opportunities to prove that they aren’t some mid-major nobody – as if 18 NCAA tournament appearances in a row weren’t enough.

In their defense, they will field the deepest team in their school’s history. Gonzaga’s depth in the front court was on full display on Saturday night as their star center, Przemek Karnowski, left the game in the first half after getting poked in the eye. Freshman and McDonald’s All-American, Zach Collins, filled in without a beat and put up a double-double and added 6 blocks. I guess it was the first time a freshman had done that in tournament history.

Being an underdog, I suspect that Gonzaga will finally be able to play with the scrappiness and reckless abandon that garnered them national attention in tournament’s past. But this time, it won’t just be freshman picking up statistical firsts, as the small school from Spokane is primed to put up their first NCAAB National Championship banner in their Kennel. I’m taking Gonzaga +110 for my March Madness pick to go along with the pulled pork sandwiches I will be feeding the crowd in my man cave on Monday night.

 Free NCAAB Pick: GonzagaBest Line Offered: at Bovada

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