The National Championship match has been set: No. 1 seeds North Carolina and Gonzaga will square off in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament final on Monday, April 3. 

North Carolina's Theo Pinson (1) celebrates as Oregon's Payton Pritchard (3) walks off the court after the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. North Carolina won 77-76. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

North Carolina’s Theo Pinson (1) celebrates as Oregon’s Payton Pritchard (3) walks off the court after the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. North Carolina won 77-76. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The Tar Heels (32-7) will play in their 11th title game; Gonzaga (37-1) will make its first NCAA championship appearance in school history.

Strangely, both teams scored 77 points in their respective Final Four matchups Saturday night. Gonzaga beat No. 7 seed South Carolina, 77-73, while North Carolina edged No. 3 seed Oregon, 77-76. 

Senior forward Kennedy Meeks led UNC with a dominating performance, scoring 25 points on 11-of-13 shooting, along with 14 rebounds. However, Meeks missed two of four free throws at the end of the game that would have sealed the victory for North Carolina. But he redeemed himself by snatching the offensive rebound of the final missed free throw to run the clock out for the win. 

Junior forward Justin Jackson also had a strong game for the Tar Heels, scoring 22 points. 

Gonzaga’s Nigel Williams-Goss (5) celebrates after the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against South Carolina, Saturday, April 1, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. Gonzaga won 77-73. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Gonzaga also won its game against South Carolina at the charity stripe. Freshman forward Killian Tillie nailed a pair of free throws—his only points of the game—to give Gonzaga a four-point lead with 2 seconds left. 

Four players scored double digits in points for Gonzaga, including junior guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who delivered a game-high 23 points. Williams-Goss also added six assists and five rebounds. Freshman center Zach Collins added 14 points with 13 rebounds off the bench. 

Gonzaga has the opportunity to win its first national title, and cap a season filled with achievements the school has never before seen. Previous to this tournament, Gonzaga had reached the Elite Eight round just three times, and never advanced to the Final Four. A victory on Monday night would make their Cinderella story complete. 

Meanwhile, North Carolina will play for the sixth championship in school history, and third title under 14-year head coach Roy Williams. A third championship for Williams would break UNC legend Dean Smith’s record of two championships as the Tar Heels coach. 

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor