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A March Madness preview? No. 4 Gonzaga plays at No. 12 North Carolina

Gonzaga head coach Mark Few instructs his players during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Washington in Spokane, Wash., Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. Gonzaga won 81-79. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Gonzaga head coach Mark Few instructs his players during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Washington in Spokane, Wash., Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018. Gonzaga won 81-79. (AP Photo/Young Kwak) AP

On Saturday in Chapel Hill, the fourth-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs will face off against No. 12 North Carolina Tar Heels, ending a tough stretch for the Zags.

It is the fourth game in a four-game span that has seen the Zags go 2-1 so far against Creighton, Washington and Tennessee. The loss to Tennessee was the first the Zags have dropped all season and knocked them off of the top spot in both the AP and coaches polls.

North Carolina hasn’t been on same grueling schedule but they have been tested in recent weeks. They’re 2-2 in their last four outings with losses coming to Texas in Las Vegas and on the road at Michigan. Things continue to get tough for the Heels following the Gonzaga game; next Saturday, they travel to Chicago to face Kentucky.

How to watch No. 4 Gonzaga at No. 12 North Carolina

Time: 4 PM PT

Where: Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC

Channel: ESPN2/Watch ESPN

Announce team: Jon Sciambi/Dick Vitale/Allison Williams

Probable Starting Lineups

No. 4 Gonzaga (Record: 9-1)

Head Coach: Mark Few

F-(15) Brandon Clarke (17.0 ppg, 71 field goal pct., 8.2 rpg)

F-(21) Rui Hachimura (22.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 56 field goal pct.)

F-(24) Corey Kispert (9.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 41 three point pct.)

G-(13) Josh Perkins (10.2 ppg, 8.4 apg, 33 mpg.)

G-23) Zach Norvell Jr. (17.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 83 free throw pct.)

No. 12 North Carolina (Record: 7-2)

Head Coach: Roy Williams

F-(15) Garrison Brooks (9.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg. 6 total blocks)

F-(32) Luke Maye (13.7 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 75 free-throw pct)

G-(24) Kenny Williams (7.6 ppg, 4.8 apg, 2.7 rpg)

G-(2) Coby White (15.3 ppg, 81 free-throw pct., 41 three-point pct.)

G-(13) Cameron Johnson (15.7 ppg, 87.5 free throw pct., 44 three-point pct.)

The last time Gonzaga and North Carolina played

It was the 2017 championship when North Carolina defeated Gonzaga, 71-65. Two notable players from that game are North Carolina’s Luke Maye and Gonzaga’s Killian Tillie, both still on their teams. However, Tillie will not be on the floor for Gonzaga as he is still out with an ankle injury but does have a target return of late December-early January.

Keys to victory for Gonzaga

Staying out of foul trouble is going to be very important for the Zags if they want to win a tough road game in the Dean Dome. Head coach Mark Few plays between seven and eight players in his rotation so if Gonzaga does get in foul trouble it could be an interesting night in Chapel Hill.

Prediction

For many college basketball teams, the first game coming off the heels of finals week can be tough. Players have been so worried about how they’re going to do in a class and then they’ve gotta become athletes again, add in the fact you’ve gotta go on the road and play in a game. Those are somewhat major factors but not overwhelming in Gonzaga’s game with North Carolina.

I like North Carolina in a close one, the Heels can go nine-deep in their rotations and will be looking to come out running against the Zags. While North Carolina may win the first game, do not be shocked if we see a second game between these two schools in late March or early April.

Prediction North Carolina, 75, Gonzaga 70

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