Gonzaga (37-1) has a chance to win its first national title in program history Monday night. All the Zags have to do is beat North Carolina (32-7), which is back in the final for the second time in as many years.
The Tar Heels have a big, athletic team that out-rebounds teams into submission. Gonzaga, meanwhile, has a balanced inside-out approach.
“They are a team that can beat you in a variety of ways, and you don’t see that often in college basketball anymore,” Westwood One Final Four voice Kevin Kugler said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “There are teams that are guard-oriented, there are teams that are big-oriented, there are teams that are predicated on their defensive prowess – this team does everything well, which is why they’ve only lost one game this year. They can score with the best teams in college basketball. They can defend with the best teams in college basketball. We’ve seen that against two really good defensive teams that they played in this tournament, both West Virginia and South Carolina. They’ve been able to match them defensively.”
Offensively, the Zags have six players averaging double figures.
“They can play inside with Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins, they can play outside with Jordan Mathews – they can do a little bit of everything,” Kugler said. “Nigel Williams-Goss can seemingly score from anywhere on the floor. They’re an abundantly diverse team, and I think that’s one of the things that has really set this Gonzaga team apart. In an era of specialty teams, we have a team that is not necessarily a specialty team. They do everything well, and I think that’s why Mark Few has his first chance to win a national championship – because he has his most balanced and diverse team that he’s ever had in almost two decades at Gonzaga.”
Kugler doesn’t know if Gonzaga/UNC will live up to Villanova/UNC from a year ago, but he does anticipate a classic – or at least a classic matchup.
“It’s an old-school college basketball game,” he said. “If you’re an old-school college basketball fan, you’re going to love this. I think you’re going to have two dominant big, muscular, strong guys who are not going to be afraid to bang (in the post), who are not going to be afraid to foul, who are not going to be afraid to go hard after a rebound. I think this is going to be an inside-out game, which is not something we see a whole lot anymore in college basketball. I really think this is going to be a game at the end of it where you’re going to go, ‘Boy, the bigs inside were really big in this game.’ I can’t wait to see (what happens).”
Tip-off is at 9:20 p.m. ET.