In a David vs. Goliath battle for the National Championship, it was the blue blood North Carolina Tar Heels that came out on top after a sloppy, foul-filled game.
Last year, North Carolina found itself on the wrong side of history, losing to Villanova in one of the great National Championship Games in college basketball history. Tonight’s game will not go down in the same annals as that Kris Jenkins game. Instead, most fans will remember it for the 44 total fouls, and the two teams shooting in the low-to-mid-30s from the floor. Jenkins was unfortunately sitting behind Roy Williams, and not suiting up for either he or Mark Few. Both teams could’ve used his offensive abilities tonight.
And still, North Carolina fans won’t apologize, for a sloppy National Championship win is a National Championship win nevertheless. And with it, the Tar Heels program captures its sixth in history, and third under Roy Williams, who took over the program ahead of the 2003-2004 season.
— Carolina Basketball (@UNC_Basketball) April 4, 2017
It was a game of up-and-down performances for the champion Tar Heels. Joel Berry II led the way with 22 points on 7-of-19 shooting, and 4-of-13 from three-point range. For his efforts, he was awarded the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player award.
Justin Jackson, the consistent star for the Tar Heels all season, was not very efficient, scoring 16 points on 19 shots, but had the big runaway dunk that sealed the game down the stretch. It was Kennedy Meeks who had the big block to lead to that fast break, starting a stretch that will haunt Gonzaga fans for years to come.
He did not have the same monsterous outing that he did against Oregon on Saturday night, but that defensive play essentially clinched the win for UNC. His fellow forward Isaiah Hicks had a strong performance, however, with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting.
Gonzaga was led by Nigel Williams-Goss’ 15 points, but it took him 17 shots to get there. Josh Perkins was red-hot to start the game for Gonzaga, but cooled off considerably in the second half, and finished with 13 points on 3-of-8 shooting.
This is North Carolina’s first NCAA Championship since 2009. The Tar Heels also took home the title in 1957, 1982, 1993, and 2005. Perhaps most importantly for UNC fans, the Heels are once again ahead of Duke in all-time national titles.