Tha Sports Junkies 101

The Matchup Data Strongly Favors Gonzaga to Win the NCAA National Championship

NCAA National Championship John Bradberry Charlotte NC/ via Flickr


2017 NCAA National Championship: Men’s Basketball

There are many factors to consider when analyzing tonight’s NCAA National Championship game for men’s basketball. Both North Carolina and Gonzaga have loaded rosters and elite coaches. UNC lost tragically in the last seconds of last year’s championship game vs Villanova from this incredible shot. Gonzaga has never been in the NCAA title game.

Story lines are aplenty, but what matters in this game is what happens on the court. KenPom has Gonzaga as about a 5 point favorite. FiveThirtyEight has Gonzaga as a 62% favorite. But these are all high level looks at how good the two teams are. If we dig into the match-up data and compare teams head to head by what they like to do, how does it look?

It turns out, one team is strongly favored. I’ll give you a hint: It’s the one that’s in the 99th percentile offensively and the 100th percentile defensively compared to the rest of college basketball.


North Carolina’s Offense vs Gonzaga’s Defense

NCAA National Championship

As you can see, Gonzaga has a strong edge in almost every area. UNC’s relies on their transition game for 17.8% of their possessions. In this matchup, Gonzaga’s staunch transition defense should be able to shut that down.

UNC’s post game also looks on paper as if it’ll be stymied by Gonzaga. Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins are stalwarts on the interior. The pair sport defensive points per possession that are in the 95th and 85th percentiles relative to the rest of the NCAA, respectively.


Gonzaga’s Offense vs North Carolina’s Defense

NCAA National Championship

Gonzaga’s offense has less of an edge, but still look good in this matchup. UNC ranks better than Gonzaga in very few categories.

Gonzaga spends 36.4% of their total possessions on post and transition scoring. These areas of their game should have a field day on Carolina’s defense. Those are also two areas where fouls are frequently drawn. If the Bulldogs can pound UNC in these areas consistently it can mean bad things for their foul situation.


Who Will Win the NCAA National Championship?

On (advanced and very in-depth) paper, Gonzaga should win the title
game. Their defense has a distinct advantage against North Carolina’s offense. The Gonzaga offense should also fare well against the Tar Heel defense. Anything can happen, but it looks like the Gonzaga Bulldogs will be your 2016-17 NCAA National Champions.