After last year’s heart break, the North Carolina Tar Heels won their 6th National Championship after defeating Gonzaga Monday night 71-65. North Carolina was led by their point guard Joel Berry II who put up 22 points and Justin Jackson who notched 16 points. Their big man down low, Kennedy Meeks also pulled 10 rebounds in the win.
The Tar Heels avenged last season’s loss to Villanova that ended with a buzzer beater. Their “redemption tour” however, was not an easy one. They lost to Duke in the ACC tournament semifinals, then trailed against Arkansas with just 3:30 left in the game in the second round. They also battled Kentucky which ended with a Luke Maye shot with only seconds left on the clock which lead to a surprising win against Oregon, pulled off after 4 missed free throws in the last 6 seconds of the game.
All of this happened with an academic scandal still unresolved and hanging over their heads. Joel Berry II also battled ankle injuries throughout the entire tournament but the Tar Heels have learned to battle hard in the face of adversity.
North Carolina pulled this game off but it was a very “unorthodox” National Championship game to say the least.
The teams shot a combined 34.8% from the floor. The Tar Heels and Bulldogs combined for 44 fouls and missed a combined 20 free throws for the night.
Gonzaga’s 7 foot big man, Przemek Karnowksi finished only 1 for 8 from the field and UNC’s Justin Jackson, who is a presumed first found draft pick, finished only 6 for 19 from the floor.
The officiating was also not so great as there were an abundance of terrible calls most likely brought on by both team’s sloppy play and poor defense. Needless to say, this was close game, but not a particularly good one.
Through it all, North Carolina prevailed, taking their 6th National Championship title; their 3rd since 2005. As Roy Williams told his team after their win “North Carolina is Michael Jordan, it is Sean May, Danny Green, Tyler Hansbrough, and Ty Lawson, and now it is you,” as he points to his players in the locker room. They are now in the history book as the 2017 NCAA Men’s National Champions.