2017 NCAA Championship Game: Best Prop Bets for North Carolina-Gonzaga

National sportswriter Mike Tierney reveals his favorite prop bets for Monday night's must-see national championship game.

 

In one corner is North Carolina, which gave up more points to one defeated opponent (80 by Butler) than it generated in each of three recent victories (72, 75 and 77). Three different Tar Heels have led the team in scoring through five NCAA Tournament tilts.

In the other corner is Gonzaga, which slogged through two wins that produced rock-bottom points totals of 112 and 119 but whose other games resulted in a more reasonable 152, 142 and 150.

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Its All-America guard, Nigel Williams-Goss, paced the Zags in scoring three times but was held to 10 and nine in the other two outings.

Boy, this prop business is challenging, given the teams' inconsistencies. Nothing short of being privy to game plans instills confidence.

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Who knew South Carolina would attack the Bulldogs' peerless defense within seconds of the shot clock?

Yet, on we proceed with the most attractive props for Monday's grand finale of March Madness, three days into April. Numbers come courtesy of the Westgate LV SuperBook.

Team to make the first three-point field goal: North Carolina -110, Gonzaga -110

Through five tourney outings, the Bulldogs have rung up four more threes than the Tar Heels (37-33) and allowed eight fewer (35-27). There you have it.

Now, if UNC's Joel Berry II can rediscover his shooting touch from afar, the boys in light blue could strike first. But Berry clanged 11 of his 13 attempts in the past two games, so he likely will be thinking drives to the basket.

Pick: Gonzaga

First team to score 10-plus points: North Carolina -110, Gonzaga -110

After spotting Texas Southern a 10-8 lead in the opener, which is not uncommon for No. 1 seeds against No. 16s, the Heels have hurried to get to 10 points.

They reached double figures first in the next four games, beating opponents there by a combined 16 points. (One lead was 11-5).

The Zags trailed 10-9 in their initial game and 10-8 on Saturday to South Carolina. They did hit double-digits before their foes in the other three, but even the race was close against Xavier, which wound up losing by 24.

Pick: North Carolina

Total free throws made by North Carolina's Joel Berry II: 2.5 (Over -150, Under +130)

Do not be daunted by the lopsided odds. Nor by Berry stunningly misfiring on two attempts at the end of the win over Oregon.

UNC's bearded one dropped in 19 foul shots in the previous four games. He was hitting 80-plus percent until the pair of misses.

As the point guard, he will get to the stripe often if UNC leads down the stretch. Berry might have this total surpassed by halftime.

Pick: Over

Total rebounds by North Carolina?s Kennedy Meeks: 10.5 (-110 either way)

Against Arkansas, in which 137 points were scored, Meeks reeled in 11 rebounds. Against Kentucky, with 148 points totaled, he amassed 17 boards. Against Oregon, with 153 points racked up, he accumulated 17 rebounds.

It stands to reason that Meeks should cross into double-digits against the Zags, with an Over/Under of 153.5 suggesting lots of shots will be attempted.

The Bulldogs? size might increase the degree of difficulty for Meeks. But he is on a rebounding roll and is unlikely to back off now.

Pick: Over

Total points by North Carolina's Theo Pinson: 5.5 (-110)

Such a minuscule total for a starter on a high-powered offense is eye-catching.

Then again, this figure is close to his season average of 6.1, so the Over is no sure thing for a guy who attempted only 14 shots in the Tar Heels' first four tourney games.

Pinson "exploded" with eight attempts Saturday. Seeing as how UNC's big men will not as easily launch close-in shots against the Zags' post players, this unsung Heel should pile up a half-dozen point at minimum.

Pick: Over

Total points for Gonzaga's Jordan Mathews: 11.5 (-110 either way)

His season average is 10.8. So, what's the lure to the Over?

Mathews has attempted 40 three-pointers in the NCAAs -- eight per game. That?s a bunch. (Fifteen have found the mark.)

With UNC?s imposing defensive presence in the paint, the Zags figure to fire away more than usual from beyond the arc. If that happens, Mathews should get his share of points, especially with an average of 13.2 in the Big Dance.

Pick: Over

Total points for Gonzaga?s Zach Collins: 9.5 (-110)

It?s time to break up the streak of Overs.

Collins is one fine freshman who contributed 14 points against South Carolina. But he was held to a combined seven in the two preceding games. The seven-footer won?t have his way against the trees that make up UNC?s front line.

Besides, it?s difficult to project double figures for a guy who is logging less than 20 minutes per game.

Pick: Under